The Belarus economy is tumbling down. Though, President Lukashenka is denying the crises: Since January 2011, in order to deal with the financial meltdown the government has devaluated the national currency by 56% against the US dollar. As a result of this the prices in the stores are rising, and the Belarusians are suffering.

“Crisis in Belarus?! You know, a crisis is when enterprises are closed down because there is no demand for their goods, when it is impossible to sell products and people are forced into the streets,” said Aliaksandr Lukashenka during a recent press-conference at the National Library in Minsk denying any economic problems in the country.

Belarus has been struggling for some months to pull out of the foreign currency crisis, which is mostly fuelled by President Lukashenka’s populist economic policies. The result is a massive devaluation of the Belarus roubel against the dollar. The country has lost more than a quarter of its foreign currency reserves compared to before the devaluation in May. On June 1, reserves stood at $3.6 billion, down from $5.0 billion on January 1. (more…)

The Turkish election on June 12 is considered a success to almost everyone involved, comments Thomas Gür, advisor to the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation.
The election on June 12 could be considered a success for almost everyone concerned. The ruling AK Party strengthened its support among voters from 47 percent of the votes in 2007 to close to 50 percent. While in government, the AK Party has earned a gradually increased support in three parliamentary elections and successfully faced the electorate in two local and regional elections as well as in two referendums.

 This largest opposition party, the left wing/nationalist party CHP received an increased election support and a stronger stand in parliament. The nationalist MHP was able to retain its support. Its 13 percent kept the party in parliament, in spite of fears that the party would end up below the 10 percent threshold. The independent candidates, primarily Kurdish politicians, almost doubled their share of the parliament by taking 36 seats. (more…)

On June 12, Turkey goes to the ballot boxes. “The ongoing campaign is probably the most person-oriented campaign that I’ve ever seen in Turkey” comments Thomas Gür, senior advisor to the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation. While the AK will claim a landslide victory “with 40 to 50 percent of the votes” and form a majority government, the key issue is whether the AKP will manage to achieve at least 330 of the 550 seats in Parliament. “With such a majority, the AK Party would be able to put constitutional changes up for a public vote. Making constitutional changes in Parliament would require 367 of the votes, i.e. two thirds.”

The classic ferry route across the Bosphorus leaves from Eminönü, home of the new Mosque (inaugurated in 1655), to the Üsküdar, a city founded in the 700’Th century and formerly known as Chrysopolis or Scutari. At the ferry slip at Üsküdar, nowadays a municipality within Greater Istanbul, the campaign for the June 12 election is running on full speed.

Campaign workers hand out leaflets to surpassing ferry passengers as they enter and leave the terminal. The air is filled with the sounds of fluttering party pennants and flags hanging from the trees and streetlights, side by side with the mandatory Turkish flags. However, the sound environment is not likely to invite to neither spontaneous small talk nor serious discussion with party representatives. The low key square meeting speakers have been replaced by loudspeaker from at least three parties at the time – all of them shouting out pompous music mixed with recorded speeches of the party leaders. The loudspeakers thrones at the top of huge trucks with open sides – combinations of mobile election stands and propaganda machines equipped with some serious audio visual technology. (more…)

Today’s arrest of the Bosnian Serb wartime military leader Ratko Mladic is welcomed by numerous leaders in the international community. Ratko Mladic was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 25 July 1995 and was a fugitive from justice for almost 16 years. “Ratko Mladic has been the most wanted ICTY fugitive and his arrest is proof of the readiness of state to fulfill all international obligations as well as those of domestic law ” said Suzana Grubješiæ, Vice President of G17 PLUS – a sisterparty of the JHS. She added that all those accused of the worst war crimes must be brought to justice.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, welcomed the arrest of Bosnian Serb wartime military leader Ratko Mladic as a very important step for justice and regional reconciliation. So did Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament saying:

“I welcome the arrest of Ratko Mladic and congratulate the Serbian authorities. The arrest is good news for Serbia, for the stability of the region and gives new impetus to Serbia’s EU accession process. His arrest is convincing proof of Serbia’s efforts and cooperation with the ICTY.” (more…)

Mikola Stakevich and Dzmitry Us, both oppositional candidates in the presidential elections 2010, have been found guilty of „mass riots“ after the elections on December 19, 2010. Mikola Statkevic, leader of the Social Democratic Party, was been sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a reinforced prison. Dzmitry Us, independent oppositional candidate in the presidential elections 2010, has been sentenced to 5,5 year imprisonment. A former police officer was also sentenced to 5,5 years.

Today the City Court in Minsk found seven oppositional activists guilty of „mass riots“. Mikola Statkevic, leader of the Social Democratic Party, was been sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a reinforced prison. Dzmitry Us, independent oppositional candidate in the prsidential elections 2010, was been sentenced to 5,5 year imprisonment. Alaksandr Klaskouski, former Police officer who was arrested in the evening of December 19, after he tried to protect people from getting harshly beaten, was sentenced to five years imprisonment in a reinforced prison. (more…)

The sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime in Belarus have been widened. Today almost 190 individuals are barred from entering the EU.

The Council of the European Union has imposed wider sanctions against the Belarusian officials adding 13 new names to the black list, most of them working in the country’s judicial institutions, others in universities and schools. The Council stated that the restrictive measures imposed on the Belarus was adopted “… following the recent sentences on the former presidential candidate Sannikaw and on a number of members of the political opposition and civil society”. (more…)

Earlier today the news agency AFP and the KyivPost suggested that Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister of Ukraine and leader of the political bloc Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) might be arrested. This was not the case. She was released following the interrogation about corruption in connection with an agreement about gas.

This morning Yulia Tymoshenko was summoned to an interrogation. This was not the first time Ukrainian authorities called her in for questioning. She is being accused of mishandling of state funds and is placed under de facto house arrest since December 22, 2011. She has only been allowed to travel at a few occasions; including a trip to Brussels in March of this year.

During the elections last week end President James Michel was re-elected for a second fiveyear term in office. Voter turnout was 85 percent.

Seychelles President James Michel was May 19 to 21 re-elected for a second five-year term in office. Michel, the Lepep Party leader, won 55.46 percent of the vote. Opposition presidential candidates Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party received 41.43 percent of the votes, independent candidate Philippe Boulle received 1.66 percent of the vote and Hjalmarson Foundation cooperation partner New Democratic Party’s candidate Ralph Volcere won 1.45 per cent. Voter turnout was 85 percent, as reported in the web edition of the newspaper <i>Seychelles Nation</i>.

According to Reuters <i>Africa</i> Ramkalawan accused James Michel for letting election officials bribe oppositionals not to vote.

Today Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Vital Rymasheuski, both oppositional candidates in the presidential election December 19, 2010, were sentenced two years conditional imprisonment.

Today the Court of Frunzenski District of the Minsk City announced the sentences for two former oppositional candidates in the presidential elections on December 19, 2010 – Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Vital Rymasheuski, in additing to a few other oppositional activists. In regards to Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Vital Rymasheuski the ruling was two years conditional sentences. Also a number of activists from Uladzimir Niakliayeu’s election campaign were sentenced to two years  conditional punishment, that is Siarhei Vazniak, Aliaksandr Fiaduta and Andrei Dzmitryjeu. Nasta Palazhanka, well known opositional activist from the youth organisation of Young Front and an agent in the election campaign of Vital Rymasheuski was sentenced to one year of conditional sentence

The verdicts for the two former oppositional candidates, Dzmitry Uss and Mikola Statkevich, that were supposed to have been announced today were postponed due to the fact that the judge was ill.

The Prosecutor General’s Office in Ukraine today announced that Yulia Tymoshenkos request to lift a travel ban and to allow her to visit the City of Kharkiv to meet voters and party activists on May 17-18, has been turned down. This happens simultaneously with the release of a statement by Hryhoriy Nemyria, Deputy Head of Batkivshchyna Party and former Deputy Prime Minister in criticizing Ukraine’s political leadership for not honoring its commitments and obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe.

“The current administration must not and has no right to apply selectively criminal justice system to persecute political opponents and to impede the activities of the opposition” said Hryhoriy Nemyria. “It has no right to manipulate electoral laws, to restrain the freedom of assembly, to use the Security Service of Ukraine for intimidation of civil activists, and to establish executive control over the judiciary.” (more…)