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Country News Digest Y Y Y Vol.3, Issue #11
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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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11/11/13-11/15/13

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Azerbaijan

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After Wednesdays’ meeting with President Aliyev, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu called for Swiss mediation in the NagornoKarabakh conflict. He also said Turkey was ready to normalize relations with Armenia, provided it withdrew from Karabakh. Azerbaijan has stated that it will tolerate the opening of the Turkey-Armenia border, if Armenia returns five provinces that neighbor Karabakh. Articles: Today’s Zaman 1news.az

Country News Digest
Russia

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On Thursday the last shipment of downblended weapons-grade uranium left St. Petersburg in accordance with an exchange program between Russia and the US. The program, known as Megatons to Megawatts, was created in 1993 and saw the downblending of 500 metric tons of highlyenriched uranium for US nuclear power plant fuel. New York Times

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Reuters

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Around 8,000 workers for the Georgian Railway Company went on strike on Thursday, calling for overtime pay and better bonuses. Workers from around the country are participating in the strike, however trains are still running according to schedule. Strike initiators are currently in negotiations with the Office of the Public Defender and representatives of the non-governmental sector.

Georgia

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Ukraine stopped all gas purchases from Gazprom on November 9 as a result of increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine has been decreasing its Russian gas intake, but Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that Kiev owed $882 million for gas purchased in August, leading some to anticipate a new gas war. Ukrainian officials believe this is an effort to keep Ukraine from signing a free trade deal with the EU November 28.

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On Wednesday Armenia’s opposition Heritage Party submitted a vote in parliament for a bill on recognition of indepdence for Nagorno-Karabakh. Concerned that independence recognition would undermine Armenia-Azerbaijan peace negotiations within the OSCE Minsk framework, all but 11 of 131 MPs refused to vote. Nagorno-Karabakh remains unrecognized as independent by any country.

Armenia

Public Radio Armenia Articles:

On November 12, Prime Minister Myasnikovich said that Belarus will create privatization targets for ministry and regional authorities to earn at least $1.5 billion from privatization in 2014. He said that the privatization system should be re-configured to stabilize Belarus’s economy. This year, state industries only achieved 50% of their assigned privatization targets. He also advocated removing restrictions on foreign currency loans to small businesses.

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RFE/RL

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Prime Minister Erdogan’s call last week to ban coed university dorms has provoked student protests in Istanbul. Erdogan has said that the ban is a response to concerns from parents, and has stated that Turkey is a “conservative-democratic” country. Opponents to the ban are accusing Erdogan of eroding personal freedoms and imposing Islamist cultural norms on the officially secular country.

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Global Post

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin warned Tuesday that Moldova’s Association Agreement talks with the EU could deepen the isolation of Transnistria and “unfreeze” the conflict over the breakaway region. Moldovan authorities countered by citing recent steps taken to reduce tensions with Transnistria, including OSCE-led confidencebuilding talks, and a measure passed last week to ease travel restrictions for Transnistria residents. Articles: Vesti Finance Moldova.org

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Officials from Kyrgyzstan addressed the UN’s Committee Against Torture this week in Geneva, responding to concerns about the alleged widespread mistreatment of prisoners in Kyrgyzstan. Officials downplayed most of the concerns, stressing recent successes in prosecuting law enforcement officers responsible for prisoner abuse, and stating that LGBT prisoners received equal protection.

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Kloop.kg

Articles: Vecherniy Bishkek

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, together with the Afghan counternarcotics ministry released the results of a survey this week, indicating that opium cultivation in Afghanistan hit record levels this year. Western and Afghan forces have taken a cautious approach to poppy eradication, concerned that destruction of local residents’ source of income would drive them towards the Taliban. Articles: Wall Street Journal Russia Today

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Oil industry representatives announced Monday that production at Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oil field would be suspended until 2014, due to a gas leak discovered in October. Kashagan opened in September 2013 after years of delays, having been discovered in 2000. Run by a multinational consortium, the giant offshore field is predicted to increase Kazakhstan’s annual oil output from 82 million tons in 2012 to 110 million by 2018.

Kazakhstan

Tengri News

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The International Atomic Energy Agency’s most recent quartlery report shows a significant decrease in Iran’s nuclear program expansion. The report notes that no new major parts in Iran’s heavy water reactor or its enrichment plant in Natanz have been added in the past three months. However, Iran is still enriching uranium to fissile concentration of 20%. Uranium enrichment is widely considered to be Iran’s most controversial nuclear activity.

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On November 10 and 11 a series of three earthquakes hit the Rudaki district, approximately 26 miles southeast of Tajikistan’s capital city, Dushanbe. The earthquakes, which registered magnitudes of 5.0, 5.0 and 4.0 respectively, destroyed 104 houses and damaged 256 more. No deaths were reported.

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This week the IMF released double-digit growth estimates for Turkmenistan for 2013 and 2014, with predicted GDP increases of 10.1% and 10.7% respectively. Despite these seemingly impressive figures, the IMF implored Turkmenistan to undertake widespread economic reforms, emphasizing the country’s vulnerability to fluctuations in world energy prices. Reuters

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Amid reports of kilometerlong lines for gas throughout the country, national holding company Uzbekneftprodukt released a statement Sunday blaming gas shortages on panicked drivers “stocking up.” Analysts, however, say the shortage is due to declining fuel production and aging Soviet-era infrastructure. Local industry sources confirm that the country’s refineries regularly operate below capacity.

Uzbekistan

Disputes with the Mongolian government have temporarily prevented Turquoise Hill Resources, the company building the Oyu Tolgoi Mining Project, from securing the international funding required to begin phase two of the mine’s development. In response, Turquoise Hill Resources has issued a rights offering that may allow its majority shareholder, Rio Tinto, to increase its stake in the company.

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Apotheka Pharmacy is opening the country’s first internet pharmacy. Customers with prescriptions will be able to order medicines to their door and consult with pharmacists online. Medicines are anticipated to take three days to ship. The pharmacy will sell both prescriptions and over-the-counter medication, as well as veterinary medicines and beauty and health products.

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Estonia

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On Thursday Canada announced an end to visa requirements for Czech citizens, who can now travel visa-free in Canada for up to six months. The previous visa policy, which was established in 2009, aimed to reduce the number of asylum cases from Roma populations. The policy was seen as a complication in ratifying a free trade deal between Canada and the EU. The Globe and Mail Articles: Wall Street Journal

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Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service (SIS) has been criticized for the detention of several journalists linked to intelligence leaks. Lithuanian prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius called the SIS’s actions “over-strict” and not “proportionate” to the situation. However, the head of SIS, Saulius Urbanavicius, claims the service’s actions have thus far been “adequate.”

Lithuania

Lithuanian Tribune Articles: Wall Street Journal

The first round of regional elections for the eight self-governing regions of Slovakia was held on November 10. Prime Minister Fico announced that his Smer party was the victor. Smer won three spots in the first round, and anticipates winning four of the remaining elections in the second round, which are due to be held November 23. A turnout of only 21% prompted Fico to suggest a return to the previous administrative model of four self-governing regions.

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According to official data released this week, Latvian economic growth sped up in the third quarter of 2013, thanks to increases in the manufacturing, retail trade, and construction sectors. The economic data bodes well for Latvia, as the Baltic country awaits entry to the Eurozone in January 2014.

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A baby in Hungary was delivered this week to a brain-dead mother. The mother died at age 31, after a stroke in her fifteenth week of pregnancy. Doctors kept the mother on life support for another three months, and then delivered the baby by Cesarean section this week. The baby is healthy and doing well, and doctors will now donate the mother’s organs.

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Ultra-nationalist Polish rioters threw flares, bottles, and stones at the Russian embassy in Warsaw on Monday, setting the guard station on fire. The riots took place on Polish Independence Day, reflecting growing anti-Russian sentiment. Although the Polish government publicly apologized for the attack, Russian rioters retaliated by throwing smoke bombs and firecrackers at the Polish embassy in Moscow.

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After 14 years in limbo, a proposal from Canada’s Gabriel Resources to mine in Rosia Montana has been unanimously rejected by a parliamentary commission. This plan sparked countrywide protests against the mine, causing authorities to reassess the plan. Parliament found that it did not meet requirements for mineral resource exploitation in Romania.

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Euro News

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Ongoing protests against Bulgaria’s government escalated when students chained and padlocked the doors of Sofia University on November 10. In a sign of solidarity with protestors, students at at least 18 other universities across the country have blockaded auditoriums. The anti-poverty and anticorruption protests are believed to have the support of 60% ofthe population. Articles: Russia Today Reuters

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Croatia

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Bulgaria

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A thunderstorm with galeforce winds ripped through Croatia’s Adriatic coast on Monday, killing one man and injuring 22 more people. Named Cyclone Teodor, the storm winds reached 136 mph, blowing rooftops off of houses and uprooting whole trees in Zagreb. USA Today

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Bloomberg

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Protests were held throughout Albania this week to oppose tentative NATO plans to import Syrian chemical weapons for destruction in local facilities. According to a September UN resolution, Assad’s weapons must be destroyed by June 2014. Albania is a potential disposal location because it successfully destroyed its own chemical stockpile in 2004. Protestors say the plan contradicts a recent law banning waste imports.

Albania

Al Jazeera America

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Serbia and Montenegro have agreed to set up a “functional airspace block” (FAB), signing a memorandum of understanding on November 12. The FAB is a significant precondition for integration with EU aviation structures, and for the implementation of the Single European Sky regulation. The two countries already share a single provider for aviation services, Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services.

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Balkan Insight

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inSerbia

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The Serbian government announced this week that construction on the South Stream gas pipeline will begin on November 24. The deal for the pipeline was signed last year between Serbia and Gazprom. The pipeline will transport gas from Russia through Serbia and out into Western Europe, notably bypassing Ukraine. The deal will ensure that Serbia has a steady gas stream and significant power as a regional energy supplier.

Serbia

RFE/RL

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Global Post

With votes finally counted from the November 3 elections, Kosovo’s electoral commission announced Friday that Citizens’ Initiative Srpska, a Serbia-backed party, had secured mayoral wins in three northern municipalities. The elections were the first Kosovo-wide vote to include the Serb-dominated north, and met with calls for a boycott by Serb hardliners. A repeat vote will be held Sunday in Mitrovica, where the polls were marred by violence.

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Balkan Insight

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Thirty-four tons of cucumbers were returned to Macedonia from Croatia after the Croatian Food Agency detected excessive levels of chemicals and pesticides in the vegetables. Although the cucumbers were screened before they left Skopje, they were determined unfit for consumption once they arrived in Croatia. The Macedonian Food Agency is exploring the matter further.

Macedonia

The Slovenian parliament has passed Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek’s 2014 budget proposal, to which she had attached a confidence vote. The budget includes fiscal austerity measures aimed at raising taxes and cutting expenses as Slovenia attempts to avoid an EU bailout.

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Mevlid Jasarevic, a Bosnian Bosnia & man sentenced to 18 years Herzegovina in prison for terrorism after shooting at the US Embassy in Sarajevo in 2011, is currently being re-tried, and is appealing for a reduced sentence. Jasarevic wounded several police officers in the attack, which he recently referred to as a “stupid act.” The court is scheduled to come to a decision on the case on November 20. ABC News

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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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