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4/20/15 4/24/15

Two human rights defenders in Azerbaijan who were

campaigning against political imprisonment have themselves
been detained and imprisoned by Azeri police. Prosecutions of
human rights activists have recently intensified as the country
prepares to host the inaugural European Games. Human rights
groups claim that, under president Aliyev, the number of
political prisoners in the country is continually on the rise.
The Guardian

Human Rights Watch

This week Georgia hosted President of Belarus Alexander

Lukashenko for his first visit to the country, and to meet his
Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili. I am ashamed
to have never been to Tbilisi and other parts of Georgia, only
Abkhazia, said Lukashenko. In his speech, he also recognized
Abkhazia as an integral part of Georgia and noted the absence
of political disagreements between Belarus and Georgia.
Kyiv Post

Civil Georgia

Events to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian

genocide were held throughout the country from April 21-24.
Representatives from over 60 countries traveled to Armenia to
attend the events, including Russian President Vladimir Putin,
French President Francois Hollande, and Serbian President
Tomislav Nikolic. In addition, the Armenian Genocide
Museum-Institute reopened on April 21 after undergoing
renovations. The centennial will be officially commemorated on
April 24.

On Friday, Armenians from around the world gathered in

Istanbul to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide, and
visit the places from which their ancestors were gathered to be
expelled. Demonstrators held signs demanding official Turkish
recognition of the Armenian genocide, which the government
has long denied. Turkish nationalists also demonstrated, calling
the genocide claims a lie. On April 24th, the Turkish
government officially commemorated the centennial of the
Battle of Gallipoli in WWI.
New York Times
The Guardian

On Wednesday, the E.U. brought antitrust charges against

Russian gas giant Gazprom. According to Margrethe Vestager,
the European Competition Commissioner, the company has
abused its position in central and eastern Europe by hiking
prices and barring customers from selling gas across borders.
Gazprom has called the charges unfounded and hinted at
political motivations. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also
dismissed the charges as an unacceptable application of EU
law to past Gazprom deals. Vestager has said that the charges
are not political.
New York Times
Deutsche Welle

On Wednesday, the United States accused Russia of deploying

more air defense systems into eastern Ukraine and being
involved in the training of separatist forces, in breach of a
cease-fire agreement, according to U.S. State Department
spokeswoman Marie Harf. Harf said the increasingly complex
nature of the training exercises of rebels leaves no doubt that
Russia is involved. The claims come as Ukrainian troops and
separatist forces resumed exchanging fire this week near
Donetsk and the port city of Mariupol.
Wall Street Journal


Last Saturday, President Alexander Lukashenko announced that

he will not be attending this years Victory Day celebrations in
Moscow on May 9, in order to attend the celebrations in Minsk.
Instead, he said he would probably be in Moscow to celebrate
on May 7 and 8 to show our unity with the Russian people and
others. Although Lukashenko will not be attending the events
in Moscow on May 9, he has criticized other leaders who
refused to participate due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow Times


The Moldovan Central Bank discovered that Moldova lost 1

billion dollars through suspicious bank transactions in the days
leading up to last Novembers parliamentary elections,
amounting to nearly one fifth of the countrys GDP. Anticorruption prosecutors and American auditors have now begun
investigating the transactions, which threaten to destabilize the
countrys entire banking system.


On April 23, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Joomart Otorbaev

announced his resignation in parliament amid controversy
over the operations of the countrys largest gold mine,
Kumtor. Otorbaev himself gave no explanation of the
resignation, though he said that there must be no monopoly
on power in a democracy. Otorbaev, who took power a year
ago, staunchly resisted calls to nationalize Kumtor and made
it his priority to reach a deal with Centerra, though opposition
parties and local residents in recent years have increasingly
called for the mines nationalization.

Snap presidential elections in Kazakhstan will be held on

Sunday, a year before current President Nursultan Nazarbaevs
term will officially end. Observers expect Nazarbaev,
representing the Nur Otan party, to win easily over opponents
Turgun Syzdykov of the Communist party, and former regional
governor Abelgazi Kusainov. Nazarbaevs platform emphasizes
political stability and economic reform, which have been tested
over the last year in response to an economic downturn.
Moscow Times


Tajik President Emomali Rahmon met with Zhang Chunxian,

secretary of the Xinjiang Regional Committee of the
Communist Party of China in Dushanbe on Monday to discuss
cooperation between Tajikistan and Chinas Xinjiang Uyghur
Autonomous Region. Rahmon and Zhang also took part in
groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of a largescale energy project and five new secondary schools by the
Chinese company TBEA.
China News Service

Times of Central Asia

On Tuesday, South Korea and Uzbekistan agreed to expand

cooperation in military education and personnel exchanges.
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo met his Uzbek
counterpart, Kabul Berdiev, in Seoul for a five-day visit, the
first trip by Uzbekistans top defense official to South Korea in
seven years. During the talks, Berdiev and Min-koo signed a
memorandum of understanding, after which Berdiev toured
major defense firms in South Korea.

Korea Herald

A suicide bombing at the Kabul Bank branch in Jalalabad on

Saturday killed at least 35 civilians and wounded 125 more. It is
still unclear who was responsible for the attack, which targeted
a crowd of people waiting to collect their pay. Zabiullah
Mujahid, Taliban spokesman for eastern Afghanistan, denied
that the Taliban was behind the attack. President Ashraf Ghani
stated during a speech on national television that ISIS had
claimed responsibility. However, ISIS spokesman Sheikh
Muslim Dost denied that the group was responsible.
New York Times

Daily Beast

On Thursday, US defense officials reported that a convoy of

Iranian cargo ships suspected of carrying weapons for Houthi
rebels in Yemen reversed course in the Arabian Sea, avoiding a
potential confrontation. The US had sent warships to the Gulf of
Aden on Thursday and was prepared to intercept the Iranian
convoy to prevent arms from reaching the rebels in violation of
a UN resolution. Iran has repeatedly been accused of supplying
the Houthi rebels with arms as a Saudi-led coalition continues a
nearly month-long bombing campaign targeting them.
International Business Times

Wall Street Journal

Authorities in Turkmenistan have launched a new campaign to

destroy all privately owned TV and radio satellite dishes in the
country. The government justifies the campaign by claiming that
the dishes detract from the citys architectural beauty, but NGOs
and independent media say that the campaign really aims to
block access to international media. Although this is hardly the
first time the authorities have tried to eliminate privately owned
satellite dishes, this effort seems more serious, with officials
employing seasonal workers to eliminate the dishes while
residents are at work.
Times of Central Asia

Following the resolution of the longstanding dispute over the

Oyu Tolgoi copper mine with the Rio Tinto Group, Mongolia
has experienced a burst of economic optimism. Dollar bonds
rallied this month, and investors have been bidding up shares
of Mongolia-leveraged companies and sovereign bonds,
according to a broker with Mongolias largest brokerage firm.
In a move motivated to inspire goodwill among locals for the
mine, Rio Tinto has also pledged $5 million per year to resolve
conflicts with nomadic herders and water issues related to the
construction on the mine.

NATO conducted massive cybersecurity drills in Estonia this

week as part of the Alliances efforts to upgrade its capability
to counter potential attacks from ISIS and Russia. Teams from
16 nations took part in the Locked Shields 2015 exercise at
NATOs cyber defense center in Tallinn. The annual drill is
one of the largest of its kind.


Defense News

On April 22, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite visited

Moldova and received the countrys highest state decoration,
the order of the Republic of Moldova, for her personal
contribution to the development of Moldovan-Lithuanian
relations and her vocal support of Moldovas efforts at EU
integration. Grybauskaite also said that Moldova could
confront pressure from Moscow with economic stability and
increased rule of law.
Baltic Course


Latvian power company Latvenergo has awarded Alstom a

contract valued at over 100 million euros to refurbish 6x69MW
Kamplan units for the Riga hydropower plant on the Daugauva
river. The Riga hydropower plant is one of the three main
hydropower plants in Latvia, which together produce more than
50% of the country's electricity.

Hyrdro World

Water Power Magazine

On Thursday, Amnesty International accused the Czech

Republic of failing to comply with a 2007 European court
order to stop placing Roma children in schools for the mentally
disabled regardless of the students capabilities. Amnesty
found that Roma children comprised of almost 30% of the
students in Czech Republic schools for those with mild mental
disabilities, even though Roma make up less than 3% of the
countrys population. The rights group also claimed that Roma
pupils who go to mainstream schools are often segregated from
other students.
Al Jazeera
The Star

British retailer Tescos sales performance in Slovakia dropped 2.8

per cent year-on-year according to company reports published on
Wednesday. Tesco operates more than 150 shops in Slovakia and
has been present in the country since 1996, making it one of the
largest private employers in Slovakia. The company plans to unify
its managements systems for its operations in Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, to make the business more
Slovak Spectator


On Tuesday, Hungary joined Poland in criticizing FBI Director

James Comeys remarks on the Holocaust, in which Comey
equated Hungarian and Polish involvement to Germanys role.
As Comey said, In their minds, the murderers and accomplices
of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many
other places didn't do something evil. In response, the
Hungarian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying "The
words of the FBI director bear witness to astounding
insensitivity and impermissible superficiality." The FBI has not
issued a public apology.
Washington Post

In a rare diplomatic rift between Poland and the United States,

On Wednesday, Mihai Albulescu of the Romanian Ministry of
Poland summoned the US ambassador over remarks made by
Energy, Small and Medium Enterprises and Business
FBI director James Comey in an op-ed last week that suggested
Environment, signed an agreement in Sofia, Bulgaria regarding
Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Comeys comments drew
the construction of a vertical gas corridor that will link
criticism across Poland and led the Polish foreign ministry to
Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. The corridor will allow gas
demand an apology. Comey wrote a letter to the Polish
diversification away from Russian energy. In another agreement
ambassador to the US clarifying his statement. "The Polish state
with Bulgaria this week, the two countries approved a draft plan
bears no responsibility for the horrors imposed by the Nazis. I
for cooperation in fields of drug policy and emergency medical
wish I had
not used any other country names because my point
was a universal one about human nature," he said.
Wall Street Journal
Business Review

On Wednesday, Bulgaria agreed to build a link to natural gas

grids in neighboring Romania and Greece, known as a vertical
gas corridor. The new link will cost about $236.2 million and
become operational in 2018. Bulgarian Deputy Prime
Minister Tomislav Donchev highlighted the fact that Europes
gas map is changing and connections with neighbors allow
Bulgaria to be ready for all future scenarios. Last week,
Bulgarias government also began a tender process for deep
water gas and oil exploration off its Black Sea coastline.
Wall Street Journal

Greek Reporter

On Monday, Albania and the United States signed a strategic

partnership agreement to enhance their security and
counterterrorism efforts. Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir
Bushati met with US Secretary of State John Kerry and US
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian
Affairs Victoria Nuland in Washington, DC on Monday. The
officials discussed continuing economic cooperation and US
support for Albanias judicial reforms as well as opportunities
for enhancing cooperation in the fight against ISIS.

US Department of State

On Wednesday, Serbia sold a famed Yugoslav-era film

studio for eight million euros, transferring the rights to an
archive of classic cinematography amid protests from Serbian
filmmakers. Avala Film, a studio founded in the wake of
WWII by leader Josip Broz Tito, produced hundreds of
movies on the outskirts of Belgrade. It fell into bankruptcy in
2011. A petition was started as the sale neared to exclude the
film archive from privatization, without success. Critics say
the sale of the rights is indicative of the lack of state care for
arts and culture in Serbia.

Early on Tuesday, around 40 gunmen believed to be affiliated

with a disbanded ethnic Albanian paramilitary group, the Kosovo
Liberation Army (UCK), attacked a Macedonian police post near
the border with Kosovo. The gunmen briefly took several border
officials hostage. Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski
referred to the incident as a terrorist attack and said that the
gunman had called for the creation of an Albanian state.
Opposition media suggested the incident had been invented by
the government to distract from an ongoing corruption scandal.


In the wake of the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones,

Croatias southern coast saw a boom in tourism, especially
around the medieval town of Dubrovnik, due to its role as the
setting of the show. The show, based on George R.R.
Martins fantasy novel series, has gained worldwide
popularity and aided Croatias overall economy. Dubrovnik
has since seen 10% annual growth in tourism. At present,
tourism accounts for nearly a fifth of Croatias economy.


Montenegro is hosting a parliamentary delegation of Georgia

this week to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues related to
the NATO and EU integration. In particular, the speaker of the
Montenegrin parliament, Ranko Krivokapic, will meet with
his Georgian counterpart Davit Usupashvili. We, somehow,
are in simultaneous regimes in terms of NATO integration said Usupashvili, ahead of the meetings with the Prime
Minister of the country.

Several thousand protesters gathered in Pristina on Saturday for

a march organized by the countrys three leading opposition
parties. The demonstrators criticized government interference
in the media, protested a recent increase in electricity prices,
and called for the resignation of Enver Hasani, president of the
Constitutional Court. Reports of the number of protestors vary
from a police estimate of 2,500 protesters to a claim of 20,000
by the opposition party Vetvendosje (Self-Determination).
Turkish Weekly

Ukraine Today

On Thursday, Slovenias Constitutional Court overturned the

conviction of former Prime Minister Janez Jansa for corruption,
annulled his two-year prison sentence, and called for a retrial,
citing procedural irregularities. Jansa, the leader of the rightwing Slovenian Democratic Party, was convicted in 2013 of
bribery in connection with an arms deal with Finnish defense
group Patria in 2006. Jansa has insisted the allegation was
politically motivated and appealed the conviction.
FOX News


On Wednesday, Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik said

that Turkey prevented his plane from flying over its territory,
preventing Dodik from attending a ceremony in Yerevan to
mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide. Dodiks plane
returned to his capital Banja Luka after spending four and a
half hours at an airport in eastern Bulgaria, waiting for
authorization to fly over Turkish territory, his cabinets
statement read. Turkey denied the allegations and accused
Dodik of not following protocol.

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.