Week 45, October 24-31

October 31st, 2011   Theme: Belarus

Once again the Belarus authorities are arresting and sentencing individuals to administrative arrest. (more…)

After a long rest, alternating between publicity stunts and foreign trips representing Gazprom, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suddenly woken up with the announcement about his renewed presidential ambitions and several substantial policy statements.

Putin’s speech to the United Russia convention on Sept. 24 was downright populist. His discussion at a VTB Capital conference on Oct. 6 offered an uncommonly serious policy line. A Russian television interview on Oct. 17 rested somewhere in between. In discerning solid policy from propaganda, a rather clear policy emerges.

Putin has evolved the most on the World Trade Organization. He pursued Russia’s accession vigorously from 2000 to 2003, but during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency he has impeded Russia’s entry. Now, he has sorted out this struggle with himself. He answers the question about whether WTO accession is good or bad for Russia. “I will say it’s 50-50, but overall there are probably more pluses than minuses for Russia,” he said at the VTB conference. “We are not abandoning this goal, and we are ready to join the WTO in full, but we will do so only if they don’t set unacceptable terms for Russia.”

Read the full article in Moscow Times

Week 44, October 18-24

October 24th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

The Council of Republic adopts amendments to law “On Mass Events” at a closed session, in two readings at one time. According to the changed law organisers of a mass event have no rights to announce the date, time and place until they receive an official permit, this includes announcements on the Internet. (more…)

Week 43, October 11-17

October 17th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

The last case on “mass riots”, in regards to the presidential election in 2010, is up for consideration in Court. In addition the authorities introduce amendments to the Belarusian legislation in order to constrict conditions for public and political activities in Belarus, giving unlimited power to the KGB. (more…)

In a report issued on October 12, the EU Commission stated “that Croatia meets the political criteria and [the Commission] expects Croatia to meet the economic and acquis criteria and to be ready for membership by 1 July 2013.” At the same time the Commission recommended that the Council grant Serbia the status of candidate and give green light for accession negotiations with Montenegro.

In a set of annual reports – issue on October 12, 2011 – the Commission informed on the progress towards EU accession made by the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Iceland over the past year. (more…)

Ukrainian authorities recently issued signals about the fate of the imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as President Viktor Yanukovych hinted that she might be released following a legal reform. However, the Ukrainian Security Service is now filing new corruption charges against her.

Two days after Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) launched a new criminal case, suspecting the former prime minister and current opposition leader of attempting to embezzle $405 million in government funds. This she should have done in cooperation with a government member while heading the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), the country’s largest power company, in the mid-1990s. (more…)

Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and current opposition leader in Ukraine, was today sentenced to seven years in prison. In addition to this, she was ordered to pay a fine of $188 million to the Ukraine state and will not be able to run for office in another three years. “[This] seriously harm Ukraine’s European integration and casts serious doubts on the Association Agreement” said Viktoria Siumar, Executive Director, Independent Media Institute in Kyiv.

Viktoria Siumar explains that President Yanukovych has shown that he does not want to hear what the EU leaders are saying. “He behaves like a typical post-Soviet authoritarian leader, the main thing for him – [is to] to remove a political rival.” Yulia Tymoshenko has 15 days to appeal the verdict. (more…)

Week 42, October 4-10

October 10th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

People’s Assembly was a peaceful manifestation arranged on October 8 by different oppositional movements in order to high light the deep economic crisis in Belarus. The purpose of the manifestation was to gather as many Belarusian citizens as possible and to put forward to the regime demands of economic and political reforms in order to improve the situation in the country. Hundreds of people gathered around the country to talk openly about the political, as well as economic situation. In order to limit possibilities for the opposition to organize these events, KGB and the Police repeatedly arrested activists across Belarus or blocked them in their homes. Dozens of people were arrested, some of them detained and sentenced to prison, others had to pay a fine. (more…)

16 new individuals have been added to the list of those who are responsible for repressions and human rights violations in Belarus. The individuals on this list are banned from traveling to the EU. In addition, the assets in the European Union, of the listed persons, will be frozen.

Today the Council of the EU has reviewed sanctions against the Belarusian regime for its crackdown on opposition, repressions against civil society and independent journalists, as well as violations of international electoral standards during the presidential elections 2010.

Nearly 200 people were already subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

Read the pressrelease

Professor Anders Åslund spoke about how the Baltic countries managed to curb the financial crisis.

Professor Åslund is one of the world’s leading experts on the former Soviet republics and has been working as an economic advisor to the governments in the Baltic states, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other countries. Currently working at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC, professor Åslund has written numerous books, most recently “How Latvia came through the Financial Crisis,” together with the Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis.

 “In an economic crisis, you have to cut down on bureaucracy. In Latvia, it was cut down by 30 percent and the wages in the public sector was reduced on average by 26 percent”, according to Åslund (more…)