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1/26/15 1/30/15

On Thursday, Seymur Hazi, a journalist at an opposition

newspaper and a member of the Popular Front opposition
party, was sentenced to five years in prison in a case that has
been regarded as politically motivated. The lawyer of Hazi
noted that the verdict is not fair and the whole case has been
fabricated. The Azeri government escalated its repression
against its critics in 2014.


On Wednesday, Bidzina Ivanishvili, former Prime Minister

of Georgia and alleged informal ruler of the country, said in
a press conference that his organization Society 2030 is
currently researching the activities of prominent Georgian
NGO leaders. We will provide some interesting information
about them, he commented. U.S. Ambassador to Georgia
made a statement on the issue, pointing out that the NGOs
mentioned are close partners of the U.S. Embassy.
Georgian Times


Armenian officials in Nagorno-Karabakh have denied

reports that an Armenian drone was shot down by
Azerbaijani forces near the region. The drone was downed
on Thursday, amidst increasing violence in the region
despite a long-standing cease-fire agreement. Azerbaijani
officials have said the drone was shot over Azerbaijani
territory. Armenian officials have dismissed the allegations
as absurd.


Facebook has blocked access to Facebook pages deemed

insulting to the prophet Muhammed in response to the
Turkish governments threats to shut down access to the site
if it did not comply. The move follows a decision by
Turkeys Penal Court of Peace in Ankara, which issued an
order on Sunday to block an unspecified number of
sacrilegious Facebook pages. The recent ban comes as part
of a wider censorship push in Turkey.
Al Jazeera


Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander

Yakovenko was asked to come in to the Foreign Office when
two Russian bombers were discovered to be flying over the
English Channel on Wednesday. The Tupolev 95 Bear planes
were escorted off the southern coast of the UK by RAF
Typhoon jets after they were disrupted civilian airspace.
Although the bombers never technically entered UK airspace,
some observers have speculated that their proximity could be
tied to the recent UK inquiry into the killing of Russian
intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

On Friday, an attempt to reopen peace negotiations in Belarus

fell apart as heavy fighting resumed in East Ukraine. Rebel
delegates flew to Minsk, but later announced that peace talks
were off and flew instead to Moscow. Fighting resumed in
Donetsk, where separatists claim seven civilians were killed,
as well as in Debaltseve, where another seven civilians are
reported to have died due to shelling. The widespread
violence marks this past week as the worst fighting since the
shaky ceasefire was signed five months ago.


After an announcement on Thursday by President

Lukashenko that Belarus might need to restructure its $4
billion in foreign-currency debt, the value of Belarusian
sovereign bonds fell by 27 cents to the dollar. Lukashenko
reassured the bondholders that the government has enough in
reserves to repay the debt, a statement that was reiterated by
the Finance Ministry. The Belarusian ruble has lost 30
percent of its value against the dollar this year, leading to a
25% hike in interest rates by the Central Bank.


For the first time since 1992, the Russian Federation has not
offered the expected 100 million dollars in financial support
to Moldovas separatists region, Transnistria. The financial
aid was intended to cover social expenses such as salaries and
pensions. Lately, Russian aid has been limited due to the
worsening economic situation in the Russian Federation. The
break-away region is currently facing severe economic crisis
due to its inability to sustain itself.

New Eastern Europe

Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane

Dujarric announced that Kyrgyzstan is temporarily deprived
of the right to vote at the UN General Assembly due to the
countrys outstanding debts to the United Nations.
Kyrgyzstan joins six other countries, including Grenada,
Marshall Islands, Macedonia, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Yemen.
According to the UN Charter, a member state is stripped of
the right to vote if its debt is equal or exceeds the sum of fees
the country should pay for two previous years.

A UN report released on Tuesday sharply criticized

Kazakhstan for clamping down on human rights, including
the right to assembly. The UN rapporteur noted that this
right has been more strictly curtailed in recent months to
prevent a popular revolt like that which occurred in Ukraine.
The rapporteur also expressed concern that the people with
whom he interacted during the fact-finding mission
immediately came under police surveillance.


Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov met

with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon this week to discuss
Russian military aid to Tajikistan. Antonov stressed the
importance of strengthening Tajikistans armed forces in the
wake of the withdrawal of Western combat troops from
Afghanistan. Speaking to journalists after the meeting,
Antonov referred to Tajikistan as "our outpost in the fight
against terror" and promised Russian military aid.


On Tuesday, President Islam Karimov accepted the

credentials of the new Ambassador of the United States of
America to Uzbekistan, Pamela Spratlen. Ambassador
Spratlen was confirmed by the Senate on November 20,
2014, as a career foreign service officer for over 20 years.
Her most recent position was as the U.S. Ambassador to
Kyrgyzstan. Ambassador Spratlen expressed her desire to
continue strong, candid, and fruitful cooperation between
Uzbekistan and the United States.
US Embassy in Tashkent


This week has seen a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan,

beginning with a Taliban attack on a checkpoint manned by a
local militia in central Ghazni province that killed 11 militia
members and six insurgents. On Thursday, a roadside bomb
killed four people in the eastern province of Laghman, and later
in the day, a suicide bomber struck a funeral for the victims of
the attack, killing an additional 16 people and wounding 39.
Three American contractors were killed on Thursday in a
shooting incident at a military base in Kabul. The Taliban has
claimed responsibility for the attack.
Washington Post
ABC News

A high-level Iranian delegation met with representatives of

France, Britain, and Germany in Istanbul on Thursday to
continue nuclear negotiations. While stressing difficulties
stemming from divisions among the P5+1 powers, the Iranian
delegation expressed optimism that the negotiations will
produce a comprehensive deal by the July 1 deadline. "The
talks were very useful, positive and promising but still we are
not in a position to say we made progress," Deputy Foreign
Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters after the day-long
meeting on Thursday.

The foreign ministers of Turkmenistan, Turkey, and

Azerbaijan gathered for a rare trilateral meeting in Ashgabat
on Thursday to discuss regional and economic issues.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived on
Wednesday and held bilateral talks with Turkmen officials to
discuss potential cooperation in energy and transport as well
as Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's
upcoming visit to Turkey in March.


In an effort to end a policy standoff that has stalled the Phase

2 expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, Rio
Tinto has offered to forego a $1.6 billion royalty. The deal
would provide the Mongolian government with significant
revenues from the fully operational mine. It is believed that
the revenue from the mine could substantially impact the
ailing Mongolian economy, which saw Mongolian dollar
bonds and currency values falling to record lows this


Estonia has completed the creation of its military air

surveillance network, which will cover its entire territory.
Defense Minister Sven Mikser has pointed out that the radar
system provides Estonia with necessary situational awareness
and preliminary threat warning ability. The radar installed at
the Tika air force facility is the second ordered by the
Estonian authorities from Finland. The project cost $32

Baltic Course

On Tuesday, Czech President Milos Zeman said that the

international community should unite to take military action
against the Islamic State (IS). Speaking at a Holocaust
commemoration forum convened by the European Jewish
Congress in Prague, he drew parallels between IS and Nazi
Germany: If we are to avoid a super-Holocaust, we need
united armed action, led on the international level, under the
aegis of the United Nations Security Council, he told an
audience of European parliamentary delegations.


Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius travelled to

Georgia from January 25 to 27 for talks on Georgias efforts
to integrate with NATO and the European Union. In addition
to EU and NATO integration, he discussed bilateral
economic cooperation and energy issues with Georgian
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and President Giorgi
Margvelashvili. On Tuesday, Butkevicius also took part in a
Lithuanian-Georgian business forum and visited the EUs
Monitoring Mission in Mtskheta.
DF Watch

Slovak pipeline operator Eustream proposed that Bulgaria and

Romania build an interconnecting pipeline aimed at reducing
their dependency on Russian gas. According to the project
initiators, the pipeline will ensure that the Balkans will receive
gas from western hubs and will diminish the risks in case
Russian supplies via Ukraine are disrupted. The memorandum
of understanding between the countries will be signed in
upcoming weeks.

On Tuesday, President of Latvia Andris Berzins stated that

he will not be attending WWII Victory Day celebration in
Moscow given the worsening situation in Ukraine. The
statement published by the Presidents webpage stated that
Russias support for the separatists in Eastern Ukraine has
caused the death and suffering of civilians. The President
of Lithuania and the President of Estonia also announced that
they will not attend the ceremony.

At a memorial for Jewish soldiers who fought and died to

protect Hungarian borders in World War I, Prime Minister
Orban praised the Hungarian Jews who sacrificed their lives
for the country. He also admitted that, thirty years later,
some Hungarians chose evil over good, who chose
shameful acts over honest ones when they sent the
Hungarian Jews to their deaths in Nazi extermination camps.
The memorial was held a day before the 70th anniversary of
the liberation of Auschwitz.

Moscow Times





Polish officials continue to debate the best policies for

The head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI),
responding to the sharp increase in mortgage payments for the
George Maior, stepped down on Tuesday, several days after
575,000 Polish families who took out Swiss-franc denominated
he criticized the Romanian Constitutional Court for striking
home loans. In contrast to the statements by the Financial
down a set of surveillance laws. The laws would have
Supervision Authority last week, on Wednesday, Polands
allowed the SRI to gather and retain data on citizens
finance minister Mateusz Szczurek ruled out the possibility of
without court approval. President Iohannis accepted
forcing Polish banks to convert Swiss franc loans to zloty at
Maiors resignation, and will appoint a new director. Maior
historical rates, arguing that such a move would undermine the
had served since as chief since 2006.
stability of-cease-fire-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world
of Polands banking sector.
Wall Street Journal



On Wednesday, six Bulgarians working for the UNs World

Food Programme were detained by Sudanese rebels after an
emergency helicopter landing in the war-torn South Kordofan
province, announced the Bulgarian foreign ministry. The
flight was en route to Khartoum from South Sudan, where
fighting between the government and the Sudan Peoples
Liberation Movement-North continues to rage. The chairman
of the board of directors of Heli Air, owner of the captured
helicopter, announced that the six Bulgarians would be
released by Friday.

Supporters of the opposition Democratic Party blocked traffic

to protest fuel taxes on Monday. The protesters argue that the
taxes are driving up the cost of fuel, resulting in local fuel
prices that do not reflect the global drop in oil prices. The
protesters hope that lower fuel prices will help revive
Albanias economy. Albania's Competition Authority has
announced an investigation of a suspected oligopoly in the
fuel market.

Ukraine Today

Ivica Dacic, Serbian Foreign Minister and OSCE

Chairperson-in-Office, called on all sides of the Ukrainian
conflict to renew the peace dialogue in Minsk. On a call with
the Special Representative to the Trilateral Contact Group,
Dacic said that the international community expects the
signatories of the Minsk documents to honor their
commitments and pave the way for a peaceful resolution of
the conflict. Dacic assumed the office of chairperson with
Serbias OSCE presidency on January 15.


Macedonias former intelligence director Zoran Verushevski

was arrested at his home in Skopje early Saturday. He is
charged with possession of child pornography and illegal
firearms, according to Macedonian Interior Ministry
Spokesman Ivo Kotevski. Verushevski is the second director
of Macedonias security and intelligence agency to be
arrested. Slobodan Bogoevski was arrested in 2013 and
sentenced to two years in prison for criminal financial

World Bulletin

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovi visited Estonia and

met with his Estonian counterpart Taavi Roivas. During his
visit, Milanovi announced that Croatia plans to apply to join
the Schengen zone on July 1, 2015. Joining the Schengen
zone will help Croatias tourism industry and integrate the
countrys economy closer with the rest of the EU. Croatia
joined the European Union on July 1, 2013. The country has
been official candidate for membership since 2004.
Croatia Week


Freedom Houses Freedom in the World Report has ranked

Montenegro as free. When compared to other countries in
the region, Montenegro is ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania, while Serbia and Croatia
are also ranked as free. The Freedom House report showed
that the global political rights and civil liberties declined in
Freedom House

Anti-government protests erupted in Pristina this week in the

worst unrest since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. The
protests began on Saturday, with demonstrations organized by
opposition parties. On Tuesday, 2,000 people gathered at a
rally that turned violent. Police responded with tear gas, water
cannons, and rubber bullets. The protesters called for the
nationalization of the Trepca mine and the dismissal of an
ethnic Serb minister who referred to a group of Albanians
protesting against ethnic Serb pilgrims marking Orthodox
Christmas in January as savages.
Al Jazeera

Slovenia's second largest bank Nova KBM (NKBM)

announced on Wednesday that it ended 2014 with a net profit
of 35.9 million euros ($40.8 million). NKBM received
government aid in 2013 as part of a 3 billion euro initiative by
the Slovenian government to prevent local banks from
collapsing and is one of two Slovenian banks that failed an
ECB stress test in October. NKBM, which is owned by the
state, is set to be privatized by the end of February. U.S.
private equity fund Apollo and Hungarys OTP Bank have
offered rival bids for the bank.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman

Alexander Lukashevich warned that Sarajevos plans to ship
small arms ammunition to Ukraine would lead to an
escalation. The deal would not contribute to peaceful
resolution in the area, and would lead to new, senseless
casualties among the civilian population, according to
Lukashevich. The Bosnian companies of Igman and Unis
agreed to sell Ukraine ammunition for about $5.6 million.