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Country News Digest Y Y Y Vol.3, Issue #5


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Editor: Eugene Imas

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Contributors: -Risa Chubinsky -Glyn Cozart -Joseph Gates -Thomas Hyde -Katharine Quinn-Judge

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09/30/13-10/04/13

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Azerbaijan

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The EU issued a statement Thursday expressing concern about the preelection environment in Azerbaijan, in which it noted continued pressure on a number of opposition activists, civil society and independent media. A prominent member of the presidential administration said the statement was based on non-objective, one-sided and biased information. The poll is scheduled for October 9. Articles: Trend.az Europa.eu Ambassadors from EUs Political and Security Committee (PSC) recently met with Georgian officials to urge the country to maintain its reforms prior to the Vilnius Summit in late November. The Ambassadors also visited the Administrative Boundary Line in South Ossetia and expressed concern over recent Russian borderization attempts.

Country News Digest


Russia

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Russia is charging the 30-person crew of the Greenpeace vessel Artic Sunrise with piracy after arresting the crew last week for protesting an offshore oil platform belonging to Gazprom in the Arctic. If convicted, members of the crew face up to 15 years in prison. Reuters

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Articles: The Globe and Mail

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Georgia

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The Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz has negotiated a new deadline for its $2 billion loan repayment to Russias Gazprombank. The loan was due to be repaid June 24 2013. The Ukrainian parliament voted to allow the state to guarantee Naftogazs repayment, allowing the extension. Naftogaz was unable to secure a discount on gas supplies from Gazprom, putting pressure on Ukraines finances and creating the need for this renegotiated deadline.

Ukraine

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Trend.az

RIA Novosti

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WSJ

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On Wednesday Azerbaijans UN ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev accused Armenia of resettling recent Syrian Armenian refugees in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia has thus far accepted over 10,000 Syrian Armenian refugees, but dismisses Azerbaijans resettlement claims as lies and distortion.

Armenia

Daily Star

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Jailed Belarusian rights activist Ales Byalyatski was awarded the first Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize September 30 for his work promoting citizens rights in Belarus. Byalyatski, founder of the opposition party Popular Front and head of the Vyasna human rights group, is serving a 4.5 year prison sentence for tax-evasion. His wife, Natalya Pinchuk, accepted the 60,000 euro prize on his behalf at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Belarus

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World Bulletin

RFE/RL

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Prague Post

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This week, Prime Minister Erdoan announced a long-awaited package of governmental reforms. The reforms take a liberal stance, and include lifting the ban on headscarves for women in public institutions and lowering the election threshold for political parties to enter parliament. Hoewever, many feel that the package is not substantial enough, noting the lack of anti-terrorism law reforms or freedom of religion for persecuted groups. Articles: Guardian EurasiaNet

Turkey

Brussels held the latest round of 5+2 negotiations between Moldova and the breakaway republic of Transniestria on Thursday. The talks focused on facilitating freedom of movement across the Nistru/Dniester river in order to strengthen commerce, communication, and trust between the two sides. Andrii Deshchytsia, who chaired the talks, said the parties were more and more optimistic.

Moldova

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Interlic

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RFE/RL

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Bakyt Amanbayev, a former journalist, was selected as Kyrgyzstans new ombudsman for human rights on Thursday, beating out 48 other candidates. Rights activists differ in their assessments of his qualifications, but welcomed a pledge he made Friday to protect sexual minorities.

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Kyrgyzstan

Country News Digest

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Kloop.kg

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Azattyk

Negotiations over a Bilateral Safety Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan have stalled in recent days. Afghan President Hamid Karzai claims that two issues have become major stumbling blocks: the USs insistence on the right to launch offensive attacks in Afghanistan post-2014, and its hesitance to guarantee defense of the Afghan homeland from...attack. Articles: CBS News Reuters

Afghanistan

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Bakhytbek Smagul, a parliamentarian from the ruling Nur-Otan party, called Wednesday for a law to root out homosexual relations. Citing Kazakhstans low population density, strategic geographic location, and national mentality, he asked Parliament to look to Afghanistan, Russia, and Malaysia for legislative inspiration.

Kazakhstan

Following last weeks telephone conversation between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the US suggested the possibility of short-term relief of sanctions against Iran in exchange for information on Irans uranium enrichment program. Leaders of the six superpowers will meet Rouhani on October 15-16.

Iran

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EurasiaNet

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Tengri News

Reuters

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On Tuesday the lower house of Tajikistans parliament approved the 30-year rentfree lease extension of Russias 201st military base near Dushanbe. The base is Russias largest military installation abroad. Additionally the lower house approved a bilateral travel agreement that eases restrictions of Tajik nationals abroad in Russia.

Tajikistan

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov for the first time this week, in an attempt to strengthen ties. Observers, stressing Turkmenistans proximity to Iran, have suggested conflicting Iranian and Israeli interests in the Caspian region are behind Israels bid to strengthen relations.

Turkmenistan

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Reuters

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RIA Novosti

EurasiaNet

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Jerusalem Post

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Sergey Naumov, a journalist known for his reports on compulsory labor during Uzbekistans cotton harvest, was released after a 12-day stint in prison. He was jailed September 21 after he allegedly harassed a woman on the street. Human Rights Watch has called his arrest an illegal, forced disappearance, saying it was aimed at silencing his independent reporting.

Uzbekistan

Several issues plaguing the Oyu Tolgoi mining project in Mongolia were resolved this week. Resolutions include the decision to transfer ownership of third-party contractors working on the project to Oyu Tolgoi, giving the Mongolian government a 34% stake in the mine.

Mongolia

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The Australian

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Ferghana

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EurasiaNet

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Bloomberg

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Investor Joakim Helenius told participants at an annual conference that a plan to connect Tallinn and Helsinki by tunnel would strengthen Estonias economy. He said the tunnel would improve travel opportunities, grant new opportunities for Estonian workers, and bring foreign capital into the country. The estimated project cost is 4 billion euros.

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Country News Digest

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Estonia

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On Thursday the European Commission proposed the allocation of 15.9 million euros to the Czech Republic for recovery from severe flooding in May. The Commission also proposed aid allocation to Germany and Austria for the flooding.

Czech Republic

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ERR News

Articles: Baltic Business News

Portfolio

Articles: London South East

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This week Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius stated that Lithuania could block land transport to the Kaliningrad oblast if Russia continues its opposition to Ukraines growing trade ties with the EU. In recent weeks Linkevicius has also accused Moscow of economic war with Lithuania over border checks.

Lithuania

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Reuters

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The relocation of the Roma settlement Letanovsk Mlyn began October 1 and will last approximately two weeks. Around 840 Roma are being relocated to 100 housing units in Strelnk, where their rent and utilities will be covered via state housing contributions. Letanovce Mayor Michal Urban deemed these Roma socially inadaptable and alleged that they were causing destruction to the nearby national park. The project costs 3.6 million euros.

Slovakia

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Russia Today

Slovak Spectator

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Aktuality

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Latvia has vowed to tighten restrictions on a law that allows non-EU citizens to gain official residence in the country with the purchase of real estate. Proponents of the law claim that it has attracted crucial foreign investment that has created jobs, while opponents insist that it has distorted the real estate market and left Latvia vulnerable to foreign influence.

Latvia

Several hundred protesters gathered Monday night in Budapest after the Hungarian Parliament passed a law outlawing homeless people from sleeping or building shacks in urban areas. The law, which will go into effect next week, includes punishments ranging from fines and community service to imprisonment.

Hungary

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Business and the Baltics Articles: Business New Europe Polands Roman Catholic Church has made a public apology for the victims of two Polish priests accused of sexually abusing boys in the Dominican Republic. The whereabouts of the two priests are currently unknown. Dominican Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has called on Interpol to help locate one of the pair so that he can be tried in the Dominican Republic, where he led a parish for eight years. Articles: Huffington Post GMA

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BBC

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Poland

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Romanias National AntiCorruption Directive has charged the owners and directors of cable provider Antena Group with attempting to blackmail Ioan Bendei, an administrator of rival company RCS&RDS. Incriminating documents were allegedly being used to blackmail Bendei in order to provide more favorable pricing deals for Antena TV. Antena founder Sorin Alexandrescu fervently denies the charge. Articles: Broadband News Romania Insider

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Nikola Kazakov has been fired as the head of Bulgarias refugee agency for poor management and inadequate cooperation with European refugee aid institutions. This year 5,815 illegal immigrants have been intercepted along Bulgarias borders, seven times more than in 2012.

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Country News Digest


Croatia

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Bulgaria

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Croatia has issued a warrant for the arrest of Zsolt Hernadi, CEO of Hungarian gas giant MOL. Hernadi is suspected of bribing former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader with 5 million euros in exchange for a controlling share in Croatian oil and gas company INA. Sanader is currently serving a ten year prison term in relation to the bribe. Reuters UK

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Daily Star

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France 24

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Citing logistical obstacles, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has postponed for six months the implementation of a new law governing civil service appointments, drawing the ire of the opposition. The law, which the European Commission helped draft as part of a package of reforms to bring Albania into line with EU standards, aims to create a more politically independent civil service.

Albania

Balkan Insight

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Balkan Web

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Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia signed an agreement on October 3 concerning trilateral cooperation in information and communication technologies. This agreement aims to create favorable conditions for joint ventures and investment in projects of mutual interest. All three countries will focus on developing internet access and computer literacy for their citizens, using common experiences in order to progress.

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Serbia and Bulgaria have renewed their support for the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, which had been stalled due to political obstacles. Serbia hopes that the pipeline will diversify their utility options, and is optimistic that the project can be completed by the end of 2016.

Serbia

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Articles: Business Standard

Serbia has threatened to pull out of EU-led talks with Kosovo after the latters decision not to allow Serbian officials to visit Kosovo during the campaign leading up to next months election. The Brussels-led agreement between the two countries requires Serbia to cease sponsorship of Serbian political organizations in Kosovo, provided Kosovo allows the formation of an Association of Serbian Municipalities.

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RFE/RL

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Balkan Insight

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Macedonias ruling VMRO DPMNE party has been accused by the opposition group SDSM of deliberately failing to set aside funds for a national census. SDSM claims that a census will show that the current electoral roll is not credible, thereby delegitimizing recent elections won by the VMRO DPMNE party. The government insists that it has already cleaned up the electoral roll.

Macedonia

As Slovenia struggles to avoid an international bailout, its Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek has come under attack from supermarket mogul turned mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic. Jankovic, who announced his candidacy for leadership of the ruling Positive Slovenia party, has faced accusations of corruption in the past.

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Balkan Insight

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Utrenski Vesnik

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Global Post

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Country News Digest


On Tuesday Bosnia and Bosnia & Herzegovina began a Herzegovina country-wide population census. The census is Bosnias first as an independent nation and its first since the civil war in the 1990s. While government leaders fear the census will weaken the current system of power-sharing, the process is deemed vital for effective economic planning and for Bosnias accession to the EU. Guardian

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Articles: Al Jazeera English

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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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2013 by Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies; School of Foreign Service; Georgetown University * CERES is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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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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