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10/27/14 10/31/14

Moscows Arbitration Court ruled on Thursday that oil

company Bashneft had been sold unlawfully to Russian
company Sistema, owned by billionaire Vladimir
Evtushenkov, in the 2000s, allowing the court to seize
shares of the company. This decision will effectively re-
nationalize Bashneft, in a move that many commentators
have likened to the nationalization of Yukos in 2004.
Sistema has denied the claims, and Evtushenkov is currently
under house arrest.
Fortune Reuters
This week, 150 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters arrived in
Turkey, where they intend to cross into the besieged Syrian
town of Kobani to battle ISIS militants. Turkey agreed to
the deployment after weeks of tension and refusing to allow
Turkish Kurds to cross the border to fight. Syrian Kurdish
leaders from Kobani said that the reinforcements were
insufficient for their purposes.

New York Times BBC
Following Ukrainian parliamentary elections on Sunday, in
which pro-Western parties won the majority of the vote,
Russia and Ukraine signed an energy deal that would ensure
gas supplies for Ukrainians ahead of the winter months.
Ending a gas cutoff that has been in effect since June, the
deal will secure gas supplies for Ukraine through March.
The deal will also assure other European countries that their
own gas supplies from Russia will remain constant through
the winter.
New York Times Washington Post
An Aeroflot flight flew directly from Moscow to Tbilisi on
Monday for the first time in six years. Aeroflot Flight
SU1892 carried about 100 passengers from Moscows
Sheremetyevo Airport to Tbilisi at 11:30 PM Sunday
evening, and made its return flight at 4:20 AM on Monday
morning. Future flights will take place daily on a similar
schedule. This is the first flight between the capitals of
Russia and Georgia since war broke out between the two
countries in 2008.
Moscow Times RFE/RL
Over the past two weeks, a number of Armenians, primarily
women, have been protesting changes to government al
benefits for pregnant women. The maternity benefits law
currently compensates women with 100% of their salary
while on maternity leave. With the new amendments, the
compensation will vary based on length employed. While
the government says that the changes will help provide
benefits for unemployed mothers, women claim that the
changes will exacerbate Armenias demographic crisis.
Azatutyun ArmeniaNow
On Monday, the European Investment Bank (EIB)
announced that it would open its first local branch in
Chisinau. EIB Vice President Wilhelm Molterer credited the
opening to the cooperation of Moldovan authorities, and
said that the new office will support local businesses,
develop contacts in the public and private sectors, and
strengthen relations with partner banks. Moldova has
received more financial support per capita from the EIB
than any other Eastern Partnership nation.
CISTran Finance Global Post
Reuters Belta
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the
President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, met in Paris on
October 27 for another round of talks under the OSCE
Minsk Group to mediate the conflict resolution negotiations
over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Paris meeting
was the third in the last three months between the two
presidents. The meeting was initiated by French President
Francois Hollande. The two parties reached an agreement
on the exchange of data about those missing in action.
The EU decided on Thursday to extend Belarusian sanctions
by a year. These sanctions include asset freezes and travel
bans for individuals and companies linked to the Belarusian
government. The extension was motivated by the poor
human rights record of the country. Sanctions are part of the
EU policy of critical engagement with the government of
Alexander Lukashenko that is devised to push Belarus to
implement reforms. Belarus responded that the sanctions
hinder the process of normalization of relations between the
EU and Minsk.

On Thursday, sources at the Atomic Energy Organization
(AEO) of Iran reported that the Iranian authorities detected
and prevented a sabotage attempt on heavy water tanks.
Asghar Zarean, deputy chief in charge of nuclear protection
and security at the AEO, stated that the attempt to damage the
tanks had occurred in recent weeks but was foiled before the
tanks were filled at Arak. Zarean claimed that an unidentified
foreign country was behind the attempt.
Yahoo! News Washington Post
According to the World Banks latest Ease of Doing
Business report, released on Tuesday, Tajikistan has made
more progress than any other country in implementing
business-friendly reforms. Tajikistans progress fits in with
the overall trend of improvement among other countries in
the region, with 85 percent of countries in Eastern Europe
and Central Asia making it easier to do business in the past
Reuters Doing Business
Turkmenistan marked the 23rd anniversary of its
independence from the Soviet Union on October 27. The
celebrations lasted for two days and included a military
parade and an event at the sports stadium in the capital,
Ashgabat. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a
congratulatory telegram to President Gurbanguly
Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan and emphasized the
importance of close relations between Russia and
Turkmenistan for stability in the region.
Cihan RFE/RL
The Mongolian government has approved a new rail
project to Russia to boost international trade. Known as the
Northern Railway, the line will link Erdenet with the
Ovoot metallurgical coal project and the Russian border at
Arts Suuri, providing a direct route to Russias coal plant
in the Ulug Khem Basin. Development of the Northern
Railway follows the Mongolian governments recent trade
agreements with Russia and China to develop transit
infrastructure for increased metallurgical exports.
Railway Journal World Coal
On Wednesday, the town of Urgench hosted a two-day
international conference on mitigating environmental
degradation in the Aral Sea region. Leading international
donor organizations pledged $3 billion to help save the
shrinking Aral Sea, which was dubbed by SCO Deputy
Secretary General Nurlan Akkoshkarov as a man-made
disaster and a direct threat to sustainable development of
the Central Asian region.

On October 24, the International Court of Arbitration in
Paris awarded Latvian businessman Valery Belokon $16.5
million in an arbitration case against the Kyrgyz Republic.
Belokon owned the Manas Bank in Kyrgyzstan, which the
Kyrgyz government expropriated on allegations of money
laundering and ties to the ousted Bakiyev regime in 2010.
This marks the third international case lost by the Kyrgyz
government in recent months.
Diplomat Baltic Course
Rappler Turkish Weekly
Following a meeting on Tuesday between Afghan President
Ashraf Ghani and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China
pledged $327 million in aid. In addition to the financial
resources, Jinping also promised Chinese help in training
personnel and developing other sectors. In light of the
drawdown of U.S. troops and rising regional instability,
Ghani has been looking for additional sources of foreign aid.
Al Jazeera Wall Street Journal
A court in Almaty has ordered the Havas Worldwide
Kazakhstan advertising agency to pay a fine of 34 million
tenge (around $190,000) for the gay club poster that
depicted Alexander Pushkin kissing composer Kurmangazy
Sagyrbayuly. The agency is required to pay the teachers and
students of Kurmangazy National Conservatory, who
brought the complaint to the court claiming the poster had
hurt their feelings. Human Rights Watch called the decision
of the court a draconian ruling.
Human Rights Watch The Guardian
On Monday, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak
announced plans to strengthen Polands military presence along
its eastern border. "The geopolitical situation has changed. We
have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we
must draw conclusions from that," Siemoniak stated. The plan
will require shifting troops from their current positions along
Polands western border, where most troops have been

Slovakia signed a contract on Wednesday to purchase two
Italian Spartan C-27J military cargo planes for 34.5 million
euros each. The first plane is set to be delivered in 2016,
followed by the second plane a year later. "I believe this
contract concerns the largest modernization project in the
history of the Slovak Armed Forces. It's a project that will
shift our air force to a level where we'd like to see it," Slovak
Defense Minister Martin Glvac said after signing the contract
in Bratislava.
Shanghai Daily Slovak Spectator
Petrom, Romanias biggest oil company, and Exxon Mobil
have begun drilling a new exploration well off the coast of
Romania in the Black Sea. The well is located 155
kilometers offshore in the Neptun block, where Petrom and
ExxonMobil have been drilling since 2011. Romanian
Energy Minister Razvan Nicolescu noted that discoveries in
the Black Sea region could help Romania become energy
independent by the year 2020.
Daily Mail Vice
WSJ NY Daily News
The makeup of the new Latvian Ministerial Offices among
the three coalition parties was announced this week. The
Unity Party will have six ministers, including the posts of
prime minister, foreign minister, and finance minister. The
Union of Farmers and Greens will have five ministers,
including defense minister, economics minister, and health
minister. The National Alliance will have three posts,
including the parliamentary speaker.

Reuters Baltic Course
Deutsche Welle RT
RIA Novosti
The Guardian
Anonymous blackmailers are threatening to spread Ebola in
the Czech Republic if the government does not pay them a
million euros in Bitcoin. An email that was published by the
countrys top commercial TV Station claimed that the
blackmailers have biological material from an infected
patient in Liberia. The Czech Prime Minister called the
alleged blackmailers hyenas for taking advantage of
public fear. The Czech Republic currently has no confirmed
cases of Ebola.

Soldiers from nine NATO nations will undertake military
exercises in Lithuania. The exercise will involve 2,500
soldiers from Czech Republic, Estonia, United Kingdom,
Canada, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, and Germany.
"This shows that NATO countries assume an increasingly
serious and united position regarding geopolitical changes
and our concerns about security in the region," Lithuania's
chief of defense said on Wednesday.

A 15-year-old student in Estonia opened fire and killed his
teacher during class on Monday at around 2:00 PM local time.
Four other students were inside the classroom. The shot left
the teacher Ene Sarap, a German national, dead. The gun was
legally registered under the name of students father. Prime
Minister Taavi Roivas called the first school shooting in
Estonias history a shock to us all.

On Tuesday, approximately one hundred thousand people
protested the Hungarian governments decision to tax
internet use. Participants have demanded that the
government withdraw its plan to force internet service
providers to pay tax per individual subscriber. Furthermore,
there are concerns that the tax might not be absorbed by the
internet providers as the government claims. The
demonstration has continued since Tuesday.

Bulgarias 43rd National Assembly convened its first
meeting on Monday. After the new MPs were sworn in,
President Plevneliev gave an address, emphasizing the
importance of a functioning parliament and encouraging
dialogue between parties in the newly elected parliament,
which have been unable to form a coalition government since
the October 5 elections. Instability is the greatest threat to
Bulgaria, Plevneliev said. It is of utmost importance that
we rise to a new level of political and institutional stability.
Sophia Globe
On Monday, a TV journalist in Prishtina was attacked as he
sat at his desk. The assailant entered the office of the
television station Klan Kosova and repeatedly stabbed Milot
Hasimja in the head and neck. Hasimja is in stable condition
and the unnamed assailant has been detained. "Attacks such
as this are a serious violation of press freedom and cannot
be tolerated," said Oliver Vujovic, Secretary-General of the
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).
B92 The Guardian
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic announced on Wednesday
that Serbia is aiming to reach an agreement with the
International Monetary Fund on a loan by the end of the year.
Vucic said that the loan would improve the countrys image
and prospects with potential investors. The loan would be
precautionary for three or four years, the size of which will
be under negotiations. The Serbian government expects a
budget shortfall for 2014 of about 7.6% GDP.
InSerbia Bloomberg
The leading Croatian telecommunications company T-
Hrvatski Telekom posted a net profit of HRK 717 million in
the first nine months of 2014, down nearly 26% from the
same period of 2013. A Hrvatski Telekom press release
explained that the Croatian telecommunications industry
suffered from a protracted economic downturn and regulatory
changes this year as well as a new spectrum fee imposed by
the government.
Dalje Broadband TV News
President Bujar Nishani visited Slovenian President Borut
Pahor in Ljyubljana on Tuesday, with the joint announcement
of a new effort to boost economic cooperation between the two
countries. Nishani called for Slovenian investment in the
Albanian energy, culture, agriculture, and tourism industries.
Nishani also expressed gratitude for Slovenias support in
Albanias democratization process and efforts to join the EU.
On Sunday, the Bank of Slovenia announced that Slovenias
state-owned banks NLB and NKBM have failed a European
Central Bank (ECB) stress test, having a joint capital
shortfall of 65 million euros in an adverse scenario. NLB
and NKBM were both rescued by the state in December
when the government barely avoided an international
bailout by injecting 3.2 billion euros into local banks to
prevent collapse under bad loans.
Bloomberg Reuters
Balkans Business News
Slovenia Times
MINA BalkanInsight
Two projectiles were fired at a Macedonian government
building late Tuesday evening. One hit the roof of the
building while the other struck the exterior walls. No one
was injured. Whereas the police have not released any
information about potential suspects, a forensic
investigation is under way to determine the assailants
identities and the types of projectiles used.
General Knud Bartels, Chairman of the NATO Military
Committee, visited Montenegro at the invitation of the
Montenegrin Chief of General Staff Admiral Dragan
Samardi. During the visit General Bartels also met with the
Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. General Bartels
pointed out that, working with partners enhances NATOs
ability to tackle security challenges together and allows
NATO to build a broad cooperative security network.

On Monday, Bosnian Muslim, Croat, and Serbian nationalist
parties prevailed in the countrys three-person presidential
elections, as well as central and regional parliaments. Bakir
Izetbegovic of the Muslim SDA party won a second four-
year term in the collective presidency; the Serbs will be
represented by Mladen Ivanic, and the Croats will be
represented by Dragan Covic. Analysts expect lengthy
power-sharing talks and new delays in overdue reforms.
Reuters Balkans Business News