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3/23/15 3/27/15

Azerbaijani activists are using the upcoming European

Olympics to direct the attention of international actors to the
poor human rights record of their government and the official
crackdown on civil society. Recently, several human rights
groups submitted an appeal to the UN Human Rights Council
to stop government oppression of Azeris freedom of
expression. President Aliyev replied to the allegations with the
comment that certain foreign circles are trying to weaken


On Saturday, tens of thousands of people rallied in Georgias

capital demanding the resignation of the government. The
rally was organized by the opposition party of the expresident Mikheil Saakashvili, the United National
Movement. Saakashvili addressed the public via video call
from Brussels. "We will get Georgia back on a right track.
We will win," he said. Accused by prosecutors of abuse of
power, Saakashvili lives in Kiev where he serves as an aide
to President Poroshenko.


President Serzh Sarkisian visited Beijing this week to meet with

Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders discussed further
cooperation in the Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative, and
Sarkisian stated his support for Chinese policy in relation to
Taiwan. Xi offered support for the peaceful resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and expressed a desire for
strengthened ties with the Eurasian Economic Union. Sarkisian
then extended an invitation to Xi to visit Armenia, which he
accepted. A date has not been set for the visit.

On Friday, Turkeys parliament passed a security law to

broaden police powers and allow the use of firearms against
demonstrators. The legislation gives police greater power for
searches, bans the carrying of fireworks and slingshots, and
stipulates five years in prison for those who cover their faces
at protests. The main opposition Republican Peoples Party
(CHP) said it would file a suit in constitutional court to
challenge the security law before the June 7 parliamentary
elections. The law is seen by critics as government retaliation
to recent deadly violence in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Wall Street Journal

The son of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, also

named Viktor, died last Friday when a minivan he was in fell
through the ice of Lake Baikal. According to some accounts,
Yanukovych, 33, was driving the van of six people, the
remaining five of whom survived the crash. Russian authorities
havent confirmed that Yanukovych was behind the wheel. The
death Yanukovychs son is the latest in a string of deaths of
people tied to the former Ukrainian president.


On Wednesday, President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the

billionaire governor of Dnipropetrovsk, Igor Kolomoisky.
Recently, Mr. Kolomoisky had clashed with the government
over two state-owned energy companies in which he owned a
minority stake. Masked armed men loyal to Mr. Kolomoisky
occupied the offices of one company last week in Kiev and
unsettled the city. Mr. Kolomoisky was appointed governor a
year ago and is widely credited with having stopped proRussian separatism in his region.
New York Times
The Guardian

On Wednesday, March 25, Belarusians celebrated Freedom Day,

which commemorates the Belarusian Peoples Republic, which
existed from 1918-1919. In honor of the day, as many as 2,000
protesters marched through Minsk to express solidarity with
Ukraine and criticism of Russian policy. Some protesters also
carried EU flags and held banners declaring Belarus is Europe.
Opposition leaders at the protest stated their fears that Belarus
would be the next target of Russian aggression.
New York Times

Ukraine Today

A pro-Russian politician who favors closer ties with Russia

has been elected as a governor of a semi-autonomous region of
Moldova, Gagauzia. Irina Vlah won more than 51 percent of
the vote to be a governor of Gagauzia for a four-year
term. Last week, afraid of the spread of Russian propaganda,
the Moldovan authorities banned a Russian television crew
sent to cover elections. Gagauzia is a populated by ethnic Turk
Christians, and enjoys economic autonomy.
Deutsche Welle


Kyrgyzstans State Committee for National Security

(GKNB) has designated the Islamic State (IS) a terrorist
organization and banned its activity in the republic. The news
comes as Kyrgyz intelligence agents arrested three Tajik
citizens before boarding a plane in Osh on March 22, as they
tried to travel to Syria to join IS. In addition, the Osh district
prosecutors office filed a request with the Osh City Court to
rule that IS is a terrorist organization, claiming that the
groups are actively recruiting in Kyrgyzstan.


A report released by the Asian Development Bank this week

has forecasted an economic slowdown for Kazakhstan in 2015.
The report anticipates economic growth to drop to 1.9% in
2015 due to inflation and weak oil prices, as well as a 10%
contraction in the mining industry for 2015. However, the
report also predicts the growth rate to recover to 3.8% in 2016
thanks to stimulus measures and general adjustment to lower
oil prices.
Times of Central Asia

bne IntelliNews

On Tuesday, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon took part in a

ceremony to launch the construction of a new city in a desert
region of northern Tajikistan near Khujand. During the
ceremony, Rahmon laid the citys first brick and inspected
plans for the new city. The new city, to be named Saihoon after
a nearby river, is projected to house 250,000 people. In addition
to the construction of over 50 schools and 40 sports centers,
plans for the city include turning 7,000 hectares of desert into


Gulnara Karimova, the estranged daughter of Uzbek President

Islam Karimov, is facing new allegations of corruption. The
Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
reported this week that Karimova had received over $1 billion
in payments and shares from Scandinavian and Russian
telecom companies including TeliaSonera, Telenor, MTS, and
Alfa Telecom. OCCRP accused Karimova of diverting money
away from the Uzbek economy to banks, an offshore hedge
fund, and real estate around the world.
The Guardian

The Australian

Thousands of protesters gathered in Kabul for a rally in front of

Afghanistans Supreme Court on Tuesday. The protesters
demanded justice for Farkhunda, a 27-year-old woman who was
brutally killed by a mob on March 19 after she was falsely
accused of burning a Quran. The protesters also called for the
trials related to Farkhundas case to be opened to the public.
Nearly 30 people have been arrested in connection with her
death, and police officers accused of failing to intervene to
protect Farkhunda have been suspended.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister

Mohammad Javad Zarif met in Switzerland on Thursday to begin
the final round of nuclear talks before the deadline for a political
deal on March 31. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also reached
out to the leaders of France, Britain, China, and Russia on
Thursday in an effort to push the negotiations forward. French
President Francois Hollande released a statement declaring that
Iran has a right to civilian nuclear power and calling for a
"lasting, robust and verifiable Iranian nuclear program that
guarantees Iran will not get an atomic weapon."
Wall Street Journal

A delegation of Belarusian officials, including Deputy Prime

Minister of Belarus Anatoly Kalinin and Chairman of the
National Assembly (Parliament) of Belarus Mikhail
Myasnikovich, visited Turkmenistan this week and met with their
Turkmen counterparts. Belarusian officials promised to deliver
550 MAZ vehicles to Turkmenistan and reaffirmed Belarus
commitment to building the potash mining and processing plant


This week a Mongolian court upheld an $18 million fine for

SouthGobi resources due to tax evasion. The Toronto-listed
company has rejected the verdict and announced its intention to
appeal the decision to a higher court. The decision follows the
conviction and presidential pardoning of three SouthGobi
executives who were also convicted of tax evasion. Earlier
hearings had been postponed and rescheduled due to a lack of
evidence. The verdict could potentially impact other investors
confidence in conducting business in the resource-rich country.


On Tuesday, thousands of candles were lit on Freedom

Square in Tallinn for the 66th anniversary of the 1949 March
deportations. The ceremony was held to remember those who
were victims of the Soviet action. The USSR deported
thousands of people, amounting to nearly 3% of Estonias
total population. The deportees were mainly women and
children who were dispatched to remote areas of Siberia.

Baltic Course

The Lithuanian parliament voted overwhelmingly to ratify an

agreement to establish a joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian
military brigade. Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas
said that the main purpose of the brigade is to hold joint
military exercises and participate in international operations
for the UN. Lithuanian military personnel will be drawn from
the Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion for the
multilateral brigade. Ukraines parliament has already
ratified the agreement.
Ukraine Today

Latvia plans to introduce military exercises for students,

according to the minister of defense Ramonds Vjonis. Vjonis
said on Latvian TV that he has instructed the national armed
forces to create a structure that would allow the inclusion of
student trainings. Whether the training will be mandatory or not
is still under discussion. The initiative comes after the decision
of neighboring Lithuania to introduce compulsory military

Sputnik News

According to General Andor Sandor, the former head of

Czech military intelligence, Prague has become a major
target for Russian and Chinese spies seeking to gain access to
NATO intelligence and leverage the Czech Republics status
as an EU member state. Sandors statement follows reports
that three alleged Russian spies were quietly asked to leave
Prague by the Czech government earlier this month. Sandor
said that the latest scandal is not an isolated incident and
We have had this issue for some time.

Prague Post

The Dutch newspaper Teelgraaf published an article that reveals

that the Netherlands is a conduit for gun smuggling from
Slovakia to the rest of the Europe. The paper bases its claims on
the correspondence between Netherlands and Slovakia through
Europol. In November, the police intercepted a large shipment
of sub-machine guns from Slovakia to the Netherlands. It
appears that the shipments were happening on by-weekly basis.
NL Times

Dutch News

Hungary announced on Wednesday that it had reached an

agreement with EU atomic fuel watchdog Euratom to amend a
contract regarding two new nuclear reactors in the town of Paks.
According to the original terms, Russia would have exclusive
rights to fuel the plant for 20 years. However, the EU objected to
this arrangement in light of its attempts to diversify Hungarian
its nuclear fuel supply. The new terms stipulate that Russia will
have exclusive fueling rights for 10 years, after which the
contract opens up to international competition.
Financial Times

On Friday, police military prosecutors charged Polish and

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army began a series of training exercises
Russian officials with causing the plane crash in 2010 that killed
in Romania and Bulgaria under Operation Atlantic Resolve. The
Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others. The prosecutors
173rd Airborne jumped into the Smarden Training area to begin
charged Polish officials with selecting a flight crew that lacked
training with Romanian counterparts, and USAREUR's 2nd
the proper qualifications to fly the presidential plane in difficult
Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment arrived at the Mihail
weather conditions, and charged unnamed Russian air traffic
Kogalniceanu Air Base to conduct simulated ground assaults. A
controllers from Smolensk with putting the plane at
total of about 800 paratroopers and soldiers arrived for the
risk. Prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag said that attempts have been
exercises, which is part of a U.S. plan for increased military
made to interrogate
the Russian officials but declined to
presence in the Black Sea region and Baltics.
speculate on the likelihood of extradition.
Wall Street Journal
Sofia Globe

On Thursday, Bulgaria pulled its team out of Aprils

European weightlifting championships. The decision follows
the official announcement from the International
Weightlifting Federation that eight male and three female
Bulgarians tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
The Bulgarian government said that Bulgarian athletes will
not participate in any international events until the case is
cleared. The European championships will take place April 918 in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Boston Herald


Johannes Hahn, the European Unions Enlargement

Commissioner, visited Tirana for the first time on Tuesday.
Hahn met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to discuss
Albanias path to join the EU. Albania was given candidate
status last June, and Hahn emphasized the necessity of
reforms, particular judiciary reform, in moving Albania closer
to joining the EU. "Success will depend on Albania's resolve to
continue with reforms in an inclusive way and make them
irreversible," Hahn said during a press conference with Rama.
Shanghai Daily

In Belgrade, hundreds of people gathered in front of the

former Yugoslav Army headquarters to mark the 16th
anniversary of the air strikes on Yugoslavia that ended the
1999 war in Kosovo. Among the protesters were top state
officials, including Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic, who
said that Serbia will never forget those 78 days or the people
who died during the NATO bombing. The commemoration
began with the Serbian national anthem at 7:58pm, the time
of the bombardment.
Journal of Turkish Weekly


Leading opposition politician Zoran Zaev on Thursday

accused Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of
accepting a 20 million dollar bribe from Chinese firms in
return for awarding them the construction of two highway
sections without a tender. This is the latest in a series of
accusations and harsh exchanges between Zaev and Gruevski
that has led the country into a political crisis.
The Nation

Business Standard

On Thursday, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

received Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
National Defence Tomasz Siemoniak in Zagreb. The parties
discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and
highlighted the fact that they see each other as important
strategic partners. According to the Presidents office, the
topics discussed included issues related to Afghanistan and
NATO enlargement.
Visegrad Plus


Montenegro is planning to sign an agreement with Bulgaria to

boost bilateral cooperation in the field of culture during the
upcoming meeting of the delegations of the two countries.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov is expected to meet
his Montenegrin counterpart and discuss deepening the
relationship between Podgorica and Sofia.



On Wednesday, European authorities announced the arrest of 77

people suspected of smuggling migrants from Kosovo into the
European Union. The arrest total includes 46 people arrested on
Tuesday in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany,
Hungary, Slovakia, and Kosovo, as well as 31 other suspects
who have been detained in raids since October. The arrests are
aimed at stemming the flow of tens of thousands of ethnic
Albanian migrants and asylum-seekers who have been streaming
into the EU since last fall.
New York Times


Apollo, a U.S. investment firm, is in advanced talks to finalize

the purchase of Slovenias second-largest bank NKBM from the
state. Local media reported on Friday that Apollo is buying
NKBM for about 200 million euros, while its rival bidder,
Hungarian Bank OTP, reportedly offered 130 million euros.
NKBM is one of 15 firms that have been earmarked for sale by
the Slovenian government to boost economic growth and reduce


Catholic officials in Bosnia have revealed details about the

June visit of Pope Francis to the Balkan country. The Pope is
schedule to hold an open air mass and meet political leaders
during his trip on June 6. Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Bosnias
Roman Catholic Primate, said that the Popes motto for the
trip will be Peace be with you, while the banners at events
will include images of Bosnias flag with a white cross and
dove. The Pope will make peace-building the main focus of
his visit, Puljic said.
Ukraine Today

Journal of Turkish Weekly

The Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies 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,
Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas.