Russia and Eurasia |
Chronology - 17 May 2013
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CHRONOLOGY of Russia/Eurasia-related events and daily guide to international MEDIA HEADLINES
NYT = New York Times (www.nytimes.com). WP = Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com). FT = Financial Times (http://search.ft.com/search/index.html). IHT = International Herald Tribune (www.iht.com/frontpage.html). LAT = Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com). Econ = The Economist (www.economist.com). MonDip = Le Monde Diplomatique (www.monde-diplomatique.fr). MT = Moscow Times(www.themoscowtimes.com). Guard = Guardian Weekly. BBC = BBC World Service website (www.bbc.co.uk/news). Other titles given in full.
REVERSE CHRONOLOGY - Latest dates first
18 May. Spy wars in Russia - The Kremlin plot thickens (Econ)
17 May Syria crisis: Russia 'sends sophisticated weapons' (NYT report quoted by BBC) / Russian capital turns down application for gay parade (IHT brief)
16 May Sound, but little fury, in spy case (IHT)
15 May Russia says it detained U.S. agent (IHT) / Moscow holds US envoy in spy case (FT)
14 May 'Grey cardinal' ousted as Putin shuns spin-doctor's 'dark arts' (Surkov) (FT) / Call to restore trust in Russia (amid economic slowdown) FT
13 May Savage crime in Russia is linked to homophobia (IHT)
11 May Russian slowdown expected to ripple (EBRD warns of regional effect) IHT / One man against the Kremlin (Browder) IHT / An ideologue's exit (Surkov) Econ / Georgia's government - Caucasian circles (Econ)/ Marinsky theatre - Goldfingered Gergiev (Econ)
10 May Bomb inquiry looks at Russian trip (IHT)
09 May A Putin adviser falls from grace (Surkov) IHT / Architect of Putin's Kremlin resigns (Surkov) FT / Finally, the U.S. and Russia team up (but face problems of delivery on Syria) - Trenin (IHT)
-- Most CIS countries mark Victory Day. In Moldova clashes take place in central Chisinau between promoters of unification with Romania considering the day as a mourning day and people taking part in a Victory Day concert organised by the Russian embassy. In Moscow President Putin and prime minister Dmitri Medvedev attend the military parade in Moscow Red Square, and Putin praises World War II veterans in a reception in the Kremlin. Tajikistan president Emomali Rahmon announces the 1,300 veterans living in the country will receive a $170 award. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych urges a national dialogue between those who were divided into enemy camps by the war. Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov meets veterans, awards every veteran $240, and warns of the threat of a civil war in Afghanistan and destabilization in Central Asia after the pull-out of the US-led NATO forces. / Sergei Prikhodko is appointed acting Kremlin chief of staff to replace Vladislav Surkov.
08 May Kerry urges co-operation with Russia on Syria FT / Syria conflict: Envoy Brahimi hails US-Russia accord (BBC) / Boston bombings thaw U.S.-Russia intelligence relations (IHT)
-- It is announced that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkadi Dvorkovich will temporarily take over the duties of Vladislav Surkov, who resigned from the post of deputy prime minister and chief of government staff. (Surkov says he submitted his resignation letter back on 26 April and refuses any comment). / The head of the movement ‘For Human Rights’, Lev Ponomarev, says that today about 90-95% of Russian NGOs' funds comes from abroad, because Russian businessmen are afraid to support human rights activists. / Reacting to President Putin’s call on the government to adapt its plans for a worsening of the situation in Afghanistan, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russian should develop a dialogue with all neighbours of Afghanistan without exception.
07 May Russia and US agree Syria conference (Kerry-Lavrov meeting) BBC / Rally in Moscow highlights political precautions ('close to 30,000' at Bolotnaya anniversary) / A Russian housewarming (Marinsky II opening events) IHT
-- At the opening of the South Caucasus Forum organised on the 90th anniversary of late President Heidar Aliev, Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliev says that he wants to ‘liberate our land’ (i.e. put an end to the ongoing conflict with Armenia) ‘in accordance with international law’. / The Belarus border service says that about 30.000 Caucasians pass a year through Belarus seeking to enter Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and attain refuge status, of whom a part are send back to Belarus. / Russian president Vladimir Putin signs a law prohibiting ministers from having cash and assets abroad. (The same applies to spouses and underage children). / US Secretary of State John Kerry has his fourth talk this year with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and meets president Putin. He thanks Russia for its cooperation in investigating the Boston bombing. Russia and the US agree on a joint effort to get the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table.
06 May Azerbaijan’s deputy premier Ali Hasanov says his country’s growing freight activities and location close to Iran and Afghanistan calls for increased effort to stem the transit of narcotics.. / About 18.000 oppositionists rally in Moscow, without a repetition of the violence a year ago; leaders say they are pleased with turnout. The demonstrators call for amnesty for those arrested after last year’s event. a limit on presidential mandates and fresh elections.
05 May The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, calls for a ban on abortion and says that the Church can care of unwanted babies. (30,000 abortions each year are officially reported). / The opposition ‘Spring March for Freedom’ disperses without incident in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow, having attracted less than 1,000 people and fewer than 100 staying up to the end.
04 May Marinsky Theatre basks in glory of $700 million renovation (FT)
-- Kyrgyzstan emergencies minister Kubatbek Boronov says that the bodies of two pilots of a crashed US KC-135 tanker have been found, while a third is unaccounted for.
03 May Putin sets televised Q&A record (Guard)
-- A court in Baku condemns three men to 11 and 12 years in jail for plotting a terrorist act in Azerbaijan during the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 (they reportedly cooperated with Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards). / Moldova’s parliament annuls the law providing for the introduction of a mixed election system (deputies will continue to be elected on party lists only). At the same time, it raises the election threshold for single party candidates from 4% to 6%; from 7% to 9% for blocs comprising two parties; and from 9% to 11% for coalitions of three or more parties. / The US Transit Centre at Manas confirms the crash of a KC-135 tanker, carrying 50 tonnes of jet fuel, in northern Kyrgyzstan. / Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia is open to talks with all representatives of the Syrian opposition, adding that supplying arms to the rebels means betting on a military solution. / Ukrainian energy minister Eduard Stavytskyy and EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger say, after a meeting, system that EU is ready to partially fund the modernisation of the Ukrainian gas pipeline and will decide with Moscow by the end of the year about the kind of consortium that will run it.
02 May Rights court says arrest of Tymoshenko was illegal (IHT / Ukraine trade deal - Europe should take tough stance on selective justice (FT leader)
-- Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliev receives BP president Robert Dudley for the third time in three months; the two men review work conducted in the Azari-Ciraq-Gunasli deposit and salute the successful development of Sah Daniz gas field. / Georgian agriculture minister Davit Kirvalidze resigns amid an alleged corruption scandal under his watch (ten high officials of his ministry were arrested on 1 May on suspicion of embezzlement and negligence in implementing a new agricultural development programme). / Speaking at Ekho Moskvy radio, Syrian minister of information, Umran al-Zu'bi, says that most Syrians want President Asad to run in the next year’s presidential elections. / The Moscow authorities allow the opposition to hold a rally on 6 May, in Bolotnaya Square, but not to hold a march. (Last year a demonstration in the same place ended in clashes with the police for which dozens of activists will soon face trial.) / Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that the stances of Russia and the US on the Syrian problem are important but that not everything depends on them; Russia wants the UN to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons near Aleppo. / The Russian Black Sea Fleet's landing ship Azov arrives in Haifa, just in time for WWII Victory Day celebrations, the first visit by any Russian warship to Israel.
01 May Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of health publishes a report showing that the infant mortality rate in the country is the highest in any CIS country (more than double the figure in Armenia and Ukraine). / Speaking at the London School of Economics, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov criticises the Investigations Committee for deliberately harming the Skolkovo project by hastily going public on alleged embezzlement; he says Russia will not survive unless it embarks on an innovation-based economy, but disagrees with the suggestion that it is is undergoing stagnation or that its political system is broken; and defends president Putin’s third term. / The European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fuele, says that a visiting Europarliament mission can help Ukraine to act speedily over the verdict on Yulia Tymoshenko.
30 Apr. Russia's VTB finds takers for new shares (IHT)
-- Belarus receives the fifth, $440m tranche of a $3bn stabilisation loan from the anti-crisis fund of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC). / The Russian authorities ban Russian civilian flights from using Syrian airspace (a day after the pilots of a Russian airliner flying from Sharm al-Shaykh to Kazan say a missile exploded a few meters from the fuselage. (Russian experts doubt the possibility). / The Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, says that to obtain observer status in the Customs Union, Ukraine must meet several conditions - and that the Union’s three members (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia) need to adopt modifications to multilateral agreements regulating the EurAsEC, the Customs Union and the Eurasian Commission. / The European Court of Human Rights rules that the arrest of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko (over misuse of authority in the ‘gas case’) was politically motivated and that she suffered a violation of her rights her rights.
29 Apr. Japan PM Abe in Russia for talks on territorial row, energy (BBC)
-- In Moscow, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe and Russian president Putin condemn the nuclear policy of North Korea, urge Iran to make ‘serious efforts’ to restore international trust, express support for territorial integrity of Syria – and agree to accelerate the talks about the Kuril islands.
28 Apr. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe leaves for Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin, on the first leg of a week-long trip that will take in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey (It is the first official visit to Russia by a Japanese premier in 10 years).
27 Apr. Fire ravages Russian psychiatric hospital, killing 58 (IHT) / Court rejects early release of Pussy Riot member (IHT brief) / Salafis, Sufis and suspect's mystery trip (Tamerlan Tsarnaev) FT / Chechnya and Dagestan - Islamists in Russia (Econ)
27 Apr. Russian president Vladimir Putin says that Russian and US special services are cooperating in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings. / The Russian Federation Council approves the settlement of two debts by Kyrgyzstan worth nearly $500m.
26 Apr. Putin sparks speculation on Kudrin role (intervention during annual call-in) FT / Putin says he's not stifling dissent as prominent activists face legal action (Navalny + Golos' $9,600 fine) IHT / In Dagestan, the [Boston] brothers' parents defend them vigorously (IHT) / Boston case casts light on violence half a world away (IHT) / Russia threatens Irish adoptions over Magnitsky (FT) / 'Many dead' in Russia hospital fire (BBC)
-- The Belarus opposition organization Chernobyl Path holds its annual march in Minsk, protesting at the possible construction of a nuclear power station in the country. / The Polish ambassador in Minsk says he wants to know more about a Russian airbase that is expected to be set up in Belarus. / On the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Almaty, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signs a memorandum of understating with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. / Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov says that Russia is opposed to the ‘reformatting’ of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan as a long-term foreign military presence without a UN mandate. (‘It will increase regional insecurity.’). / Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov gives Lebanese president Michel Suleyman a letter from Vladimir Putin expressing appreciation of Lebanon’s efforts to distance itself from the Syrian conflict. (Suleyman asks Russia to help to deal with refugees from Syria.)
25 Apr. Putin driven by revenge in court case, activist says (Navalny) IHT
-- In his annual phone-in, Russian president Vladimir Putin expresses ‘overall satisfaction with the government’s work’. He also
■ links the economic slowdown to a recession in the global economy and Russia's excessively tough monetary policy;
■ admits receiving two letters from late oligarch Boris Berezovsky;
■ says that officials must not keep their money abroad, depedent on the ‘state system’ of foreign countries, but acknowledges that Russian citizens deposed their funds abroad because they lost their savings in the 1990s;
■ rejects the wearing of hijabs at schools ‘which never happened among our Muslims’
■ praises the courage of 1990s privqatisations architect Anatoli Chubais, ‘although many mistakes were made’.
■ rejects suggestions that current moves against political opponents are reminiscent of Stalin;
■ expresses hope that Russia and USA will cooperate more closely against terrorism/
■ says he is confident that Alexei Navalny will get a fair trial;
■ denies that there are restrictions on internet freedom , saying recent laws have been against child pornography, incitement to suicide, calls for racial hatred etc,
■ praises the work of former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, but rejects his ‘lack of attention to social dimensions’.
■ say so-called ‘non-systemic opposition’ is a word of the past, since all political forces can now form parties and contest elections.
■ says it is up to Ukraine to decide whether or not to join the Customs Union, but hopes it will.
■ rejects the suggestion that Russia has missed the shale gas revolution since the real costs of this gas, including environmental costs, are not clearly asserted;
■ but also says that Russia has not completely rejected the exploitation of shale gas, despite having ample reserves.
Separately, at the end of the first session of their joint committee on cooperation, Belarus and the United Arab Emirates sign agreements on industry, agriculture, transport, education and science. / The Russian election monitoring NGO Golos is fined $10.000 for refusing to register as a foreign agent while funded from abroad.
24 Apr. Rosneft targets valuation boost ahead of share sale (FT)
-- On the 98th anniversary of the Armenian massacres, religious leaders publish a joint statement calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian genocide and return the confiscated Armenian churches and land. / Visiting Israel, Azerbaijan foreign minister Elmar Mammadiarov meets prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a discussion of events in the Middle East. / Belarus' opposition United Civic Party and the Russian opposition movement RPR-PARNAS sign a cooperation accord. / The Belarusian Popular Front says it will use all available non-violent means to protest against the deployment of Russian fighter jets in Belarus. / At the resumption of his trial on embezzlement charges, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny pleads not guilty and says the trial is a way to remov e him fromthe political scene. / Leaflets in support of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspect, appear in the Chechen capital Grozny.
23 Apr. Putin urges use of [welfare] rainy day to arrest Russia's slide (FT) / Russia must let West into Chechnya (de Waal, intelligence co-operation) FT / Shooting rampage leaves 6 dead in Russia's southwest (IHT brief)
-- The arrival of more Abkhaz from Syria to Abkhazia is described by a member of the Apsadgil repatriation organisation as promising to help to ‘regenerate’ the Abkhaz ethnos. / Russian sociologists commenting the latest poll by VTsIOM conclude that popular towards towards opposition demonstrations is diminishing, including regarding Alexei Navalny. / In a letter from prison published on the website of Vedomosti, former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsk urges civil society and business to unite against ‘political trials’. / The Ukrainian foreign ministry urges Poland parliamentarians to refrain from a decision to describe fighters of OUN-UPA (a nationalist paramilitary organisation of 1930s-1950s) as a criminals. / Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov says that former premier Yulia Tymoshenko cannot be pardoned while on trial.(She is charged with involvement in a contract killing of parliamentary deputy Yevhen Shcherban.)
22 Apr. Chechnya's recent past comes into spotlight in search for clues (Boston bombing) IHT / Brothers were in double exile (Chechnya, Boston) FT
-- Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenko orders the newly appointed energy minister Vladimir Patupchyk to thoroughly reform and ‘purge’ the ministry, ‘whose sector is vital for the economy. / The Chechen rebel website questions the credibility of Russian and American theories to explain the Boston blast, noting that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ‘is in hands of doctors of a Jewish hospital in Boston’. / Dagestani Security Council Secretary Magomed Bachilov says he has no credible information that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed during his arrest, has not been recruited by local rebels. / The Russian opposition welcomes a ruling by the Constitutional Court confirming the constitutional right of voters to appeal against election results through the court. / Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov says that Russia hopes the Arab League, which has recently recognized the Syrian opposition as the legitimate government in Syria, will change its stance. (He also thinks the EU's decision to ease an embargo on oil exports from militant-controlled areas of Syria is ‘counterproductive’.). / At a special meeting on economic issues with 18 ministers and experts (including finance minister, Alexei Kudrin), President Putin says that despite lower growth than forecast, the Russian economy has sufficient resilience; but he says budgetary measures alone cannot kick-start the economy and advocates infrastructure projects. / The Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe demands that Abkhazia and South Ossetia be given the same rights as Kosovo (a move described as a way to start a dialogue).
21 Apr. Visiting Russian energy minister Alexandr Novak says that Russia would not risk its relations with Turkey over the issue of plans by Cyprus to exploit hydrocarbon deposits in the Mediterranean Sea.
20 Apr. Justice in Russia - the Navalny affair (Econ) / 2 nurses in Russia are sought in beating of 3 young children (IHT brief) / Russian tycoon Usmanov tops Sunday Times Rich List (BBC) /
Kyrgyzstan's ethnic division - Stubborn facts (Econ)
-- Kyrgyzstan border guards at Osh airport detain a man leaving for Istanbul who is suspected of recruiting and sending people to Syria. / In a telephone conversation, presidents Putin and Obama discuss ways to coordinate the activities of their countries’ secret services in fighting international terrorism.
19 Apr. Authorities open a new inquiry focused on critic of Putin (Navalny) IHT brief / How to deal with Russia (Corboy, Cartney, Yalowitz) IHT
-- Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius tells visiting Belarus premier Mikhail Miasnikovich that Lithuania is ready to act as a gateway between EU and Belarus. (Lithuania will occupy the EU presidency during the second half of 2013). / Moldova’s opposition criticises parliament’s passing of an amendement excluding Soviet passport holders from voting in the country’s elections. (Over 270.000 of f3,5m Moldovans still use Soviet passports). / A day after a scuffle between Chechen and Ingush policemen on a border village, Ingushetia’s leader Yunusbek Yevkurov calls for a halt to any attempts by Chechen police to carry activities in Ingushetia without prior agreement. / Russian president Vladimir Putin and visiting Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi discuss bilateral economic ties, in particular, prospects for tourism, the energy sector and the grain market. / Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov rejects the suggestion of any links between Chechnya and the Boston bombing, arguing the two bombers hardly lived in Chechnya. / (Exiled separatist Akhmed Zakaev deplores the involvement of Chechens in the bombing, saying that ‘only the Russian leadership can derive benefit from this act of terror’. / The (Russian) Left Front opposition says the forced three-month suspension of its activities for violating the law on public associations is political. (Its leader Sergei Udaltsov is under house arrest). / The Ukrainian government survives a no-confidence vote..
18 Apr. Pro-Kemlin party leader calls on officials to resign (Vasilyev, United Russia) IHT brief / Putin criticizes cabinet ministers (FT) / Judge delays opposition leader's trial in Russia [for one week] (Navalny) IHT / Slowdown in Russia challenges liberal wing (retreat on privatizations) FT / Prosecutors pursue group after meeting with U.S. officials (Kostroma Centre) IHT brief
-- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili calls for vigilance against the threat of separatism in the mainly ethnic Armenian-populated Javakheti region. (He percdives a Russian-backed the movement asking for greater autonomy and for recognition of Armenian as official language). / The Russian Investigations Committee announces that another fraud case has been opened against opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg through a Cyprus-registered management company. / Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan Andrei Avetisian says that the war on terrorism has not been won and that the situation in Afghanistan risks deterioration after foreign coalition forces withdraw. / Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov says Moscow wars EU against attempting to force participants in the 18 November Eastern Partnership meeting to undertake obligations incompatible with moves towards Eurasian integration.’. / Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych welcomes the European Parliament’s ratification of the visa facilitation agreement between Ukraine and the EU.
17 Apr. Rebel in Russia, alone amid the fear (Navalny) IHT / Show trial of a Russian blogger (Navalny) FT
-- A Moscow’s judge makes it known that William Browder, the co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management and a promoter of the US ‘Magnistsky list’, has been put on the international wanted list in connection with charges that he illegally acquired shares in Gazprom. / The head of the Industry and Trade Ministry's department for the implementation of convention obligations, Viktor Kholstov, says that Russia has destroyed 73% of its chemical weapons - ‘more than has any other signatory the 1997 convention.’/ Visiting Istanbul, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that the controversy over the development of Cyprus hydrocarbons should be resolved by the Cypriots themselves and for the benefit of all Cypriots (Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says ‘all natural resources in Cyprus belong to the whole of the island, i.e. to both communities’). / Turkey and Russia agree to work on a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict. / The trial of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on embezzlement charges is adjourned ‘to allow the defence more time to prepare’; some 1.500 people, instead of the 8,000 expected by the opposition, rally against the trial in central Moscow. / The Ukrainian state tax service freezes the assets of the late Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky at the request of Russia’s Prosecutor-General's office,
16 Apr. Opposition blogger [Navalny]says case is meant to silence him (FT) / A trial that the world should watch (FT)
-- In a message to participants of the international conference of Muslims from the CIS countries in Baku, President Ilham Aliev promises further support for the development of an inter-religion dialogue. / Russian president Vladimir Putin sends condolences to US President Barack Obama in connection with the Boston terrorist attack and offers Russia’s assistance in the investigation. / A delegation of Syria's domestic opposition arrives in Moscow ‘with concrete proposals for settling the crisis’, according to one of its members, Ali Haydar, leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist party and Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs. / Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny publishes his income declaration for 2012, itemising $183,000 for his work as a lawyer, about $60,000 from shares, and $225,000 not taxable, mainly in the form of gifts for his RosPil anti-corruption project. / Russian Interior Ministry says that security on the territory of Sochi will be increased from 1 June, including on the Olympic City construction site. / Deputy foreign minister Vladimir Titov says Russia is unhappy with UK visa restrictions affecting members of its delegation to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
15 Apr. Russian president Vladimir Putin briefly joins talks between US National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon and Russian officials; a presidential aide says Russia is ready to cooperate with US over North Korea. / Russian commercial operator Inter RAO says it will start buying electricity from Finland next year due to high Russian prices. / On official visit to Moscow, Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov praises Russia’s role in creating regional stability; President Putin says he and Karimov have agreed on talks for Uzbekistan to join the CIS free trade zone.
14 Apr. In a second case in 24 hours, Kyrgyzstan police clash with anti-drugs officers, this time in the northern Chy region, following the stopping of a policeman with heroin in his car. / Indian vice-President Hamid Ansari starts a four-day official visit to Tajikistan.
13 Apr. U.S. targets Russians for rights violations IHT / Russia responds in kind to US Magnitsky list (targets include Guantanamo interrogators) BBC / Russian minister warns of slide into recession (Belousov) FT
-- Kyrgyzstan prime minister Zhantoro Satybaldiev orders an investigation about an armed clash involving 50 people (police and members of the national anti-corruption service) in the Sverdlovssk district of Bishkek.. / A ‘Day of Russian Anger’ attracts about 200 nationalists, mostly teenagers, in central Moscow to denounce the ‘too soft’ immigration policy; some dozens at the unsanctioned meeting are arrested.
12 Apr. NGOs call on Putin to back up his claims on foreign funding (IHT brief) / Latvia eurozone hopes adrift on a sea of Russian money (FT)
-- Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenko orders a 25% cut in the government’s staff by 1 July to save $130m a year. / Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that the timing of the US move to publish the so-called Magnitsky List is unfortunate, coming a few days before the Moscow visit of US National Security Adviser Donilon with a message from President Obama.
11 Apr. Leader of [Russian] Orthodox Church says feminism is dangerous (IHT brief) / Gazprom sees a future in cars fueled by methane (IHT)
-- Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilisays he will not cooperate, even for a second, with the commission due to be set up by the government to investigate the causes and conduct of the 2008 war. / The Moldovan parliament ratifies a agreement with Turkey abolishing visa requirements; it must still to be ratified by the Turkish parliament. / Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov holds talks on North Korea with his US counterpart John Kerry on the eve of the G8 foreign ministers’ summit. / Meeting with Rosneft head Igor Sechin Russian President Vladimir Putin tells rhe company not to abuse its monopoly status in Russia.
10 Apr. Journalist in Russia, beaten in 2008, dies (M.Beketov) IHT / Elections watchdog accused of failure to comply with [NGO] law (Golos) IHT / Doling business with the Iron Lady (Gorbachev on Thatcher) IHT
-- The Azerbaijan finance ministry warns NGOs to submit their financial statement within 30 days. / Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili backs calls for an investigation into the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. / Moldovan president Nicolae Timofti tasks acting premier Vlad Filat with forming a new government. / The prime ministers of Russia and Serbia, Dmitri Medvedev and Ivica Dacic, sign an agreement providing for a $500m loan to Serbia;. Medvedev says Moscow will continue to support Belgrade on the Kosovo issue but believes the Serbians themselves who should take active steps towards a solution.. / Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia and the US have no disagreements over North Korea but that one ‘should just not frighten anyone with military manoeuvres and that ‘there is a chance that everything will calm down’. / The Ukrainian foreign ministry denies reports that Ukraine supplied of weapons to Libya after fighting broke out under the Gadhafi regime.
09 Apr. Merkel warns Putin about raids on NGOs (IHT) / President Putin shrugs off German and Dutch protests (BBC)
-- During his inauguration for a second term, Armenian president Serzh Sargsian promises to improve democracy and security, and to fight unemployment. / Visiting Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha urges state oil company SOCAR to invest in his country’s energy sector and expresses support for the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline. / The Russian foreign ministry issues a statement opposing using the situation in North Korea for increasing he presence of the military in the region but says Russia shares its G8 partners' concern about the unfolding events. / Following a similar move by 100 influential American Jews, 100 prominent members of the Russian Jewish Congress sign a letter calling on Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pursue an Palestinian-Israeli independently of external pressure whereever it comes from. During the visit of president Putin to Netherlands, Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the exploration and development of gas and shale oil reserves in in the Russian Arctic shelf. / President Putin offers his condolences to the family of Russian journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was maimed in a 2008 attack when he opposed destroying trees in the Khimki forest to construct the Moscow-St Petersburg highway.
08 Apr. Hope as Ukraine pardons one prisoner (Yuri Lutsenko) IHT / Yanukovich pardons critics (Lutsenko, Filipchuk) FT / Political intrigue stirs in Uzbekistan (Karimov health rumours) IHT / Protesters greet Putin on German economic visit (NGO crack-down) IHT
-- US ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar says that the US has a neutral position over the transportation of Azerbaijani gas via the Trans-Adriatic pipeline or via Nabucco. / Tbilisi emergency services are fighting to prevent a spilt of 240.000 litres of diesel oil from a derailed train carrying the fuel near the airport. / Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani urges an investigation into the cause and conduct of the 2008 war with Russia, 'if necessary going to the Hague' about 'crimes against humanity'. / The deputy head of the Russian federal migration service, Anatoli Fomenko, says that the number of foreigners working in Russia is growing and is now 10,5 million (2.5 million from Uzbekistan, 1.1 million from Tajikistan, over 500,000 from Kyrgyzstan, 1.3 million from Ukraine and over 500,000 from Moldova). / Pardoned Ukrainian former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko says he wants to coordinate the work of the opposition but not to lead it.
07 Apr. Russian chess champion, Garri Kasparov, announces that he is resigning from leadership of the Solidarity opposition movement. / Russiab economic development minister Andrei Belousov says that on a conservative estimate, Russia's GDP in 2013 is most likely to grow by less than 3%, with the most optimistic forecast 3.2%. / Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signs the decree pardoning ex-ministers Lutsentko and Fylypchuk, who are immediately released from jail. Lutsenko says he will not run in the 2015 presidential election and will support the opposition's candidate for this post.
06 Apr. What Cyprus can teach Russia (V.L.Inozemtsev) IHT / The Kremlin's world (new foreign policy doctrine; Cohen, Heritage Foundation) IHT / Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - Intimations of mortality (succession approaching) Econ / Ukraine's future - Linguistically challenged (Econ) / Politics in Afghanistan - Attaboy (presidential chances of Atta Mohammad Noor) Econ / Oil in Russia - Picnic time for teddy bears (Rosneft bites minority shareholders) Econ
-- Visiting Georgian president Mikheil Saakshvili and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip meet for an hour and a half privately. / Russian Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov says that by admitting his guilt in the disorders of 6 May 2012 and cooperating with investigators, the activist Konstantin Lebedev 'has displayed inexcusable weakness and compromised his comrades'.
05 Apr. [Ukrainian] pro-government lawmakers set up rival legislative session (IHT brief) / Russia raids offices of rights groups (Guard) / High drama and bitter rivalry fuel Russia's ballet wars (Guard)
-- Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister Khalaf Khalafov says that work on the handover by Russia of the Gabala radar station has been completed, all ‘in an atmosphere of mutual understanding’. / Russian first deputy justice minister Alexandr Smirnov says that the number of prisoners in Russia dropped from over 800,000 in 2009-10 to 700,000 in 2012. / The Russian Foreign Ministry says that the safety of Russian citizens in North Korea is becoming a priority with the rise of tension on the Peninsula. / Gazprom and the Polish company Europol Gas sign an agreement on building the second segment of the Yamal-Europe pipeline. / In an interview with German media ahead of his visit to Germany, Presiden Putin says that Russians have the right to know who is financing NGOs engaged in domestic political activities but that no-one is banning their activities in Russia. / International negotiators and representatives of Iran meet in Almaty to consider Tehran's proposals regarding its nuclear programme.
04 Apr. Russia's bank chief warns on 'growth' ('serious concerns' after almost flat GDP figure in February) FT / Moscow aims for big financial leagues (ambitious plan for 'Moscow City' financial centre) IHT / Did Putin sink Cyprus? (IHT)
-- Authorities in Baku say some 2,200 wounded NATO servicemen were evacuated from Afghanistan through Azerbaijan between January and August 2012. / Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov confirms that presidents Putin and Obama will meet on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June. / The Russian foreign ministry says that Moscow is not thinking of setting up new bases in Afghanistan, ‘even repair bases’. / The prime ministers of Kazakhstan and Ukraine, Serik Akhmetov and Mykola Azarov, discuss bilateral cooperation.
03 Apr. Rosneft ('in depth') FT / Revamping Euro-Atlantic Security (disarmament proposal / Nunn, Ivanov) IHT
-- Meeting in Beijing, diplomats from China, Russia and Pakistan discuss the situation in Afghanistan and agree to give a larger role on that issue to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. / Russian first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov says the Cyprus crisis has no particular consequences for the Russian economy as long as the problem does not spred to other Eurozone countries. / Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov says Russia fears that a random error or technical failure could put the situation in the Korean peninsula out of control. / The Russian Central Bank puts net capital outflow in the first quarter of 2013 at $25,8bn (and $7.9bn in the fourth quarter of 2012). / Igor Sechin, head of Gazprom, says the company and Exxon Mobil have agreed to bid jointly for exploration and exploitation of the Lebanese shelf. / The Russian presidency says that the Kremlin will not name the person who passed Boris Berezovsky's ‘homecoming’ plea to president Putin. / The Ukrainian foreign ministry says that ‘for financial reasons’ it will cut pending and shorten diplomats’ terms abroad (about 2.000 are serving in foreign posts).
02 Apr. The Cyprus crisis: Moscow will not bail out Russian savers (First Deputy PM Shuvalov) BBC / Gorbachev indicts Putin and his path for Russia (IHT) / Art Paris shines a spotlight on Russia (Paris Art Fair) IHT
-- A NATO delegation arrives in Minsk on a four-day visit in the framework of NATO's individual partnership programme with Belarus. / On the second day of his visit to Moscow, Yemeni president Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi meets president Putin, who proposes Russian help with developing the peace process in Yemen. / The head of the Russian presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, says that, just like other state officials, the heads of state-controlled energy giants such as Gazprom and Rosneft should not have foreign banks accounts. / In his fight against high flight corruption, President Putin signs decrees giving Russian officials three months to declare their foreign assets and accounts (but there will not no ban as long as the origin of the funds is made clear. / The website of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky ‘press centre’ quotes the jailed ex-Yukos chief as saying that checks on Russian NGOs are ‘trivial intimidation’ which can only impair cooperation between the authorities and active citizens. / President Putin signs a law allowing Russian regions to choose between direct gubernatorial elections or the same elections through the regional legislative assembly.
01 Apr. Russians selectively blocking Internet (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube required by to hide some posts) NYT
-- Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei says that no normalization of relations between the EU and Belarus are possible as long as travel bans are not lifted (the ban concerns 243 individuals and 32 companies). / Turkish president Abdullah Gul starts a visit to Latvia and Lithuania, saying that both countries support Turkey’s EU membership. / Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev congratulates the editorial staff of Novaya Gazeta, on the 20th anniversary of the newspaper’s publication, saying that Russia needs ‘independent and responsible journalism’. / The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Nabucco projects submit to the Sah Daniz producers’ consortium their rival proposals for transporting gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.
31Mar. The Moscow Region Electoral Commission turns down requests from candidates of the Communist Party and businessman Mikhail Prokhorov's Civic Platform to annul the mayoral election in Zhukovsky, a major aviation centre near Moscow. (The previous mayor resigned in January by order of the regional governor).
30 Mar. A death in exile (Berezovsky) FT / Ukraine can't have it both ways (Herbst) IHT / Will Russia take 'yes' for an answer? (nuclear arms reduction, Picek) IHT / Trial of Russian dissident likely to start in mid-April (Navalny) IHT brief
-- Russian president Vladimir Putin has signs a decree allocating nearly $75m from the federal budget to the NGOs in 2013; the grants will be for socially-significant projects. / Servicemen of the US Marine Corps Black Sea Rotational Force and the Georgian second infantry brigade end their Agile Spirit joint exercise at the Vaziani base.
29 Mar. The new Russian mob (corrupt officials, Cyprus banks) IHT / Boris Berezovsky- The model oligarch (Econ) / Berezovsky's death ends tale of betrayal, exile and feuds (Guard) / Britain is a Russian playground (Guard)
-- The Armenian national airline Armavia announces it will suspend its flights from 1 April and institute bankruptcy proceedings. / Russia's UN envoy Vitaliy Churkin says that Russia is categorically opposed to transferring Syria's UN chair to the opposition. / The chairman of Kazakhstan's Agency for Religious Affairs, Kayrat Lama Sharif, warns over Kazakhs joining the extremist organisation Tablighi Jamaat, often after religious studies abroad. / Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia is concerned by the military build-up on the Koreanpeninsula / Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach says the Cyprus crisis will not affect directly the country’s GDP. / Cossacks start joint patrols with the police to maintain public order in northern Ukrainian city Hlukhiv.
28 Mar. With more searches, Russia adds to pressure on NGOs (IHT brief) / Russian dissident expects to be sent to prison soon (Navalny) IHT / Few Russians miss dead exiled oligarch (Berezovsky) IHT / Shares in TNK-BP fall amid Sechin uncertainty (minority shareholders' concern) FT / [Swedish] Tele2 sells Russian arm to VTB in $3.55bn deal (FT)
-- The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey sign an action plan for inter-departmental cooperation I the years 2013-2015. / The chairman of the Kazakhstan National Security Committee Nurtay Abykaev says that the terror threat in Central Asia is increasing due to increased activity by extremist groups linked to drug trafficking. / A poll in Russia suggests that three in five people believe that human rights are not observed in the country. At the same time, the most important things are free medical care (71%), the right to work and receive fair payment (57%), the right to free education (54%) and equality before the law (51%). Freedom of speech rated14%, freedom of conscience 11%, and freedom of assembly 3%. / It is announced that two Georgian wine companies will be allowed to supply the Russian market. / Russian police search the offices of Gazprom subsidiaries Torgovi Dom Rus-gaz and Gazprom Transgaz Stavropo as part of a tax evasion probe. / Russian president Vladimir Putin meets the human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin who presents his annual report; (In 2012 there were 50.000 appeals, of which 30.000 were classified as complaints). / It is announced that Ukraine has begun receiving natural gas from Hungary using the pipeline between them in the reverse direction.
27 Mar. German NGOs among groups targeted in Russian raids (IHT) / NGO fears as Russian raids multiply (BBC) / Body shows no sign of struggle in bath (Berezovsky) IHT / Youth adopted by Americans returns, with claims of abuse (IHT brief)
-- Transdniestr president Yevgeni Shevchuk says that as tension with Moldova persists, any change of the current peacekeeping format would establish conditions for a resumption of military action. / Russia's NATO envoy Alexandr Grushko says that Russia is expecting to receive clarification from America on its decision not to implement the fourth stage of its European missile defence system shortly; he also says that Russia plans to develop the transit potential of the so-called ‘northern corridor’ to facilitate the withdrawal from Afghanistan. / The Russian Federation Council approves a new scheme for electing regional governors, i.e. by a decision of the regional parliament instead of by a direct vote by the population. / Partners of the BRICS summit in Durban insist on the need for intra-Syrian dialogue. / Ukrainian foreign minister Leonid Kozhara says it would not be a tragedy if the EU-Ukraine deal were not signed at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November. / Ukraine says it has no plans to quit the European Energy Community
26 Mar. Oligarch who dug his own grave (Berezovsky) / Russian police raid offices of Amnesty International (IHT) / Putin orders talk on [Cyprus] loan restructure (FT)
-- Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makev says that his country intends to strengthen its diplomatic presence in Southeast Asia. (President Lukashenko recently visited Indonesia and Singapore.) / Moldova’s Justice Ministry refuses to register the organisation of Cossacks of Gagauzia (a southern autonomous region) saying its move is based on ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that the Cossacks partivipated in the 1992 Dniester armed conflict. / The Russian foreign ministry welcomes the call for cease-fire with Turkey by the Kurdish jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan as a step towards ‘resolving an old problem’. / Present in Durban for the BRICS summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin offers South Africa assistance and credit with which to develop its nuclear industry. With South African President Jacob Zuma, he signs agreements on cooperation in energy, security, space research and culture. / Access of websites is restricted in Uzbekistan amid rumours of President Karimov’s poor health.
25 Mar. Questions arise over death of Berezovsky (FT) / Setbacks plagued oligarch before his death (IHT) / Islanders fear mass exodus as poachers hunt Russians (Cyprus)FT / Many in Cyprus feel caught between Russians and the EU (IHT) / Xi calls for closer ties with Russia (IHT)/ Russia-Ukraine football plan wins new backing (CIS super-league) FT / [Belarus] opposition supporters rally to mark freedom day (IHT brief)
-- Unanimously, Georgian parliament gives a third and final reading constitutional changes restricting presidential powers. / The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office says it will continue to seek the return to Russia of the assets of Boris Berezovsky, despite his death. / Russian President Vladimir Putin orders the government to join with its Cyprus partners in drawing up terms for the restructuring of its Cyprus loan; Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says that Russia will wait for Cyprus to finalise its rescue deal with the EU before opening talks.
24 Mar. In Minsk, up to 1000 people take part in a Freedom Day demonstration to mark 95 years since the proclamation of the short-lived 1918 Belarusian National Republic. / Villagers in the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti claim that foreigners, mostly ‘Arabs’, are settling there on a massive scale thanks to illegal sales of farmland under the previous government. / As officials in Kyrgyzstan
23 Mar. Russians look closer to home for holiday escape (visa bans, Kremlin orders) FT
-- Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry confirms it wants the OSCE office in Baku to be downgraded to the status of a project coordinator because of questions regarding the Baku office’s activities; but it says Azerbaijan does not want to stop or freeze relations with OSCE. / In central Moscow about 2,000 people respond to call by the Communist Party demanding for a reduction of utility tariffs and the price of staple foods. / The Kiev authorities declare a state of emergency due to a blizzard which has which clogged the city’s streets and trapped people in their cars; all together, 500 cities and towns are affected. / The EU representative to Ukraine condemns an attack on MEP Elmar Brok in the European Parliament by an activist of the topless group FEMEN.
22 Mar. West on alart for Russian challenge on security issues (Cyprus) FT / Authorities in Moscow raid office of rights group (Memorial) IHT / BP sells stake in Russian affiliate (TNK-BP) IHT / Dine on horse meat? Gladly, Russians say (IHT)
-- Deputy prime minister Piotr Prokopovich says that Belarus will take foreign loans to finance a massive modernisation of industrial companies; it also wants to reschedule $12bn of foreign debt. / Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili says that he is ‘definitely going to remain’ in politics after his term expires in October, ‘in order to save democracy’.. / Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, vow to enhance their countries' comprehensive strategic cooperation, using frameworks such as the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICs. / Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia will continue monitoring the life conditions of Russian children adopted by US families live, despite the termination of the adoption agreement with the USA on 1 January 2014. / The Ukrainian parliament ratifies an accord with the European Union simplifying visa procedures for Ukrainians.
21 Mar. Medvedev hits at EU over Cyprus debt crisis (calls for EU summit to rethink terms of bailout) FT
-- In Turkemnistan to attend Nowruz festivities, Afghanistan’s President Karzai meets his Pakistani counterpart Asef Ali Zardari, who calls for signing a trilateral trade agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. / Russia’s permanent representative at the UN, Vitali Churkin, says that Russia stands for a close investigation into the alleged case of chemical weapons being used in Syria. / Russian Presidential Human Rights Council’s members approach Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika over mass checks of NGOs in various regions. / Andrei Kostin, the chief of VTB (three-quarters owned by the state) says the bank is not interested in buying Cypriot assets. / The head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, says that deputies will not cooperate with US senator Benjamin Cardin in the fight against corruption because he was one of the authors of the USA's Magnitsky law (however, he believes that the fight against corruption could be considered an area of cooperation with the US Congress). / The Russian defence ministry denies reports that Russian warships will use the port of Beirut instead of Tartus because of the escalation of the Syria conflict. / TheEU-Russia summit held in Moscow in the shadow of the Cyprus crisis will discuss economic cooperation, preparations for the upcoming G20 summit in St Petersburg and the still unsolved question of visas. / Polls show that 41% of Ukrainians favour joining the Customs Union and Single Economic Space, while 29% would prefer an association agreement with EU and 19% remain undecided.
20 Mar. Cyprus in Russia plea as island rejects levy (FT) / European debt crisis - Russian business deals on hold (FT) / Investigators in Russia drop case of dead lawyer (Magnitsky) IHT / Decision in U.S. not to charge adoptive parents irks Russia (IHT)
-- Belarus prime minister Mikhail Miasnikovich announces investment projects worth $700m for the modernization of Belarus' petrochemical industry. / In Ashkhabad, the Presidents of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan initial a trilateral framework agreement on the construction of a railroad between Ashgabat and Dushanbe via Afghanistan. / President Zardari says Pakistan has put priority to the $7.6bn Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and shares Turkmenistan's resolve to see it constructed quickly.
19 Mar. Russia lashes out at Cyprus bank levy (FT) / Russia condemns [Cyprus] plan as unfair to its citizens (IHT) / Russia is challenged on hijab ban (in Stavropol region) IHT
-- Russian interior ministry says that the two men have confessed to carrying out a series of explosions at gas pipelines in southern Russia, in 2007 and 2012. / Cyprus Finance Minister Mikhalis Sarris leaves Moscow without obtaining the new loan he was expected to negotiate. / The Ukrainian foreign ministry says it expects EU countries to make a common list of the documents needed for issuing a Schengen visa. / Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says that the effect of the Cyprus crisis on Ukraine will not be as serious as that on Russia because Ukrainian businesses have invested less in Cypriot banks. / Ukrainian premier Mykola Azarov calls opponents to shale gas extraction ‘Russian agents’.
18 Mar. Russian anger at Cyprus bailout levy ('20bn euros of Russian bank deposits') BBC /Russians join locals over big losses in Cyprus (FT)/ U.S. to limit Europe-based missile shield (IHT) /Deripaska hits out at Russia's big banks (FT interview) / Norilsk peace pays dividends for Rusal (FT)
-- Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev rules out granting a special status for Ukraine under a three-plus-one format in the Customs Union saying that one either ratifies everything or receives only observer status.
17 Mar. Karacha-Cherkessia leader Rashid Temrezov receives Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Cherkessk and they discuss cooperation. . / The Ukrainian ‘Green Front’ organization holds a protest in central Kharkiv against shale gas extraction under a contract with Shell. .
16 Mar. US cuts Europe missile shield phase (new talks with Russia envisaged) BBC /Russia and the Middle East - Putin and the Holy Land (Econ) / Kyrgyzstan - Gold in the Hills (Canadian mine-owner faces contract revision) Econ / In from the Cold (easy entry of newspaper-owner Yevgeny Lebedev into London society) IHT magazine
-- The Russian opposition Coordination Council decides to mark the anniversary of last year’s 6 May rally which ended in clashes with the police.
15 Mar. Cyprus under pressure over Russian money (bail-out talks stand-off) FT / Russia's cowboy ride aain (The Cossacks) IHT
-- The Armenian Church urges defeated presidential candidate Raffi Hovhannisyan to end his hunger strike in protest at the elections results. / OSCE secretary-general, Lamberto Zannier, visiting Baku, speaks of the Orgaisation’s ties with Azerbaijan and denies reports about an inspection of its Baku office. / Azerbaijan’s presidential administration confirms that inquiries are ongoing into the US National Democratic Institute’s activities after a human rights activist says that the Institute has spent some $2m on organizing protests the country. / Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenko attacks the European Union and the United States for imposing entry bans on his sons, including 8-year-old Kolia. / In Astana, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Israeli President Shimon Peres hold a working meeting about economic partnership.
14 Mar. The Armenian Constitutional Court rules that the 18 February presidential election was legitimate, rejecting applications by two candidates to cancel it. / Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says that Georgia will continue using the term of ‘occupied territories’ until it recovers South Ossetia and Abkhazia. / A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church will attend the enthronement of the Pope; it expressese its hope the two churches can work together to defend Christian communities in the Middle East. / Russian president Vladimir Putin assures visiting Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas of continuing cooperation, and awards him the Order of Friendship. / Ukraine, Belarus and Poland sign a border agreementregarding a disputed tripoint.
13 Mar. Russia warns UK on arming Syrian rebels (Lavrov to Hague, in London) BBC [Elvira]Nabiullina to head Russian bank (Putin nominating his chief economic adviser as head of the central bank raises independence concerns.) FT / An unholy alliance (At UN conference, Iran, Russia and ther Vatican seek to block standards protecting women from violencz (IHT leader)
-- By 42 votes to 1, with two absentions and 16 absentees, the Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights endorses a document calling, among other issues, for the denationalisation of federal TV channels in the next few years, ‘in order to provide a more appropriate picture of modern Russian society’. / Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas arrives in Moscow for a three-day visit. / The Russian party Just Russia expels from the Duma its deputies Gennadi Gudkov and his son, Dmitri, for ‘harming the party’s interests and image’ by becoming involved in the opposition Coordination Council. / The Russian Orthodox Church expresses hopes that the new Pope in Rome will cooperate ‘to defend Christianity in the modern secular world’. / Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych signs a decree aimed at boosting integration with the EU.
12 Mar. President Putin promises visiting Armenian president Serzh Sargsian that Russia increase its investments in Aarmenia, currently worth $3bn). / The US ambassador in Baku, Richard Morningstar, denies media reports that the US-based National Democratic Institute spent 2m dollars to plot a revolution in Azerbaijan through social media. / Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic arrives in Minsk for a two-day state visit intended to mend ties after a cooling in relations when Serbia aligned itself with EU visa restrictions last November. The Moldovan opposition Communist party refuses to take part in negotiations on forming a new government and calls for a snap election. / President Putin nominates Elvira Nabiullina, his economic aide and former Minister of Economic Development, as head of Russia’s Central Bank.
11 Mar. Magnitsky trial in Russia delayed [to 22 March] 'to give defence more time') BBC
-- In Venezuela for the funeral of President Chavez, Ukrainian president Alexandr Lukashenko is assured by acting president Nicolas Maduro that close political and economic relations with Belarus will be maintained. For the third year, 350 US marines take part in the month-long Georgian-US exercise Agile Spirit. Supporters of president Mikheil Saakashvili's opposition United National Movement protest against a concert given by Russian conductor Yuri Bashmet in Tbilisi saying he violated the Georgian “law on occupation” by holding concerts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. / Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blames ‘foreign sponsors of irreconcilable opposition’ for preventing political dialogue in Syria. (He says Moscow wants to help the establiqhment of a dialogue between the ‘patriotically-inclined opposition and the Syrian authorities’.). /
10 Mar. At a rally in central Yerevan, Raffi Hovhannisian, defeated presidential candidate and leader of the Heritage party, announces he is going on hunger strike in Freedom Square. He says that people’s unity can oblige President Serzh Sargsian to recuse himself from a second presidential term before he is due to take the oath on 9 Apri. / In Baku, police breaks up a rally of about 2,000 people protesting against non-combat deaths in the army. / Boris Nemtsov, of the Russian opposition Coordination Council, attacks a government bill submitted to the Duma providing for financial aid to social organizations taking part in patriotic education.
09 Mar. Sergei Magnitsky - The enemy within ('self-mutilating' posthumous trial) Econ
-- Azerbaijan police briefly detains 20 young activists taking part in an OSCE training course in Baku accusing them of preparing to take in a 10 March rally against non-combat deaths in the army./ The president of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, pays tribute to president Hugo Chavez and expresses hopes that the Russian-Venezuelan projects created with Chavez will continue to work. / The head of Ukraine’s Fatherland parliamentary faction, Arseni Yatseniuk, tells a rally in central Kiev that, starting next week, the opposition will hold people's assemblies in different regions and call for a popular uprising.
08 Mar. [Bolshoi] dancer plays down role in attack (IHT) / The leading lady (Gulnara Karimova's Uzbek succession prospects threatned by Russian and Western financial allegations) FT
-- Colleagues of Bolshoi ballet soloist, Pavel Dmitrichenko, say the believe that the dancer made a fake confession / Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti accepts the government’s resignation.
07 Mar. Gorbachev denounces Putin over laws ('attack on rights of citizens') BBC / Bolshoi star confesses to acid attack (FT) / Bolshoi attack 'was a mistake (BBC) / Behind acid attack focus on a ballerina (IHT / Tymoshenko lawyer loses right to sit in parliament (FT)
-- After weeks of common work, the Russian and Polish experts complete their inquiry into the 2010 plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski. / The Russian Ministry of Interior says that the head of the Hermitage Capital investment fund, William Browder, has been charged in absentia over illegal acquisition of Gazprom stock (Browder, who invested heavily in Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, was the employer of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky). / US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, says that President Obama will most likely visit St Petersburg on 5-6 September and meet President Putin. (The two will also meet during the June G-8 summit in Northern Ireland). / President Putin initiates a telephone conversation with the acting head of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, ending with hopes for continuity in bilateral relations. / Ukraine rejects Western criticism of the Supreme Administrative Court verdict stripping deputy Serhiy Vlasenko, of Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland faction, of his parliamentary status for combining his mandate with his work as a lawyer.
06 Mar. Bolshoi dancer two other men held over acld attack (FT) / Rivalry spurs collapse of coalition in Moldova (IHT)
-- Belarus declares three days of mourning over the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; President Lukashenko will attend the funeral. / Russian president Vladimir Putin, and all CIS presidents, pay tribute to Chavez, expressing hope that ties will be sustained. / The Russian interior ministry confirms the arrest of three men said to have admitted involvement in the attack on Bolshoi Theatre artistic director, Sergei Filin. Soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko says he hired two men to ‘teach Filin a lesson’. /The Russian federal agency for consumers protection allows 36 Georgian wineries and four mineral water producers to return the Russian market. / After a meeting with his counterpart in Habnoi, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says that Russia will help Vietnam to create a submarine fleet.
05 Mar. central bank succession (replacement of strict monetarist Sergei Ignzatiev) FT / Stalin's shadow (IHT)
-- By 54 votes to 101, Moldovan deputies pass a vote no-confidence vote in the government, giving the prime minister three days in which to resign. / Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadi Gatilov says that a UN Security Council resolution on North Korea, including sanctions provisions, will be ‘acceptable to us’, if strictly focused on military nuclear issues. / A delegation headed by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ends a two-day visit to Hanoi to flesh out the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement signed in July 2012. / Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika says that his office has unveiled numerous violations by agencies of rules regarding adoption, including those dealing with foreigners. / Hermitage Capital partner Ivan Cherkasov denies that William Browder, co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, illegally obtained shares in Gazprom, as claimed by the Russian interior ministry, and says that the company will continue to press for a US ban on visas for officials involved in the death of its accountant Sergei Magnitsky. / Ukraine’s Mykolaiv-based Black Sea ship-building plant says it intends to take part in the modernisation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. / The Ukrspetsexport company reports a 2% increase in arms exports in 2012, to a total of $1,024bn.
04 Mar. Iran, Russia and Wall Street form tag team to wrestle back Olympics (reversing IOC elimination of wrestling) FT / US and Russia find common cause on protecting polar bears (IHT) / Texas court infuriates Russians (on adoption death) IHT
-- Armenian former presidential candidate Raffi Hovhannisian appeals to the Constitutional Court to invalid 18 February elections and calls for all opposition parties to unite. / In Yerevan, a group of activists picket the US embassy to denounce President Obama’s message of congratulation to president Serzh Sargsian for his reelection. / It emerges that Belarus has the fifth largest number of EU entry denials after Albania, Russia, Ukraine and Serbia (more than 6.000 refusals, 95% at the border with Poland and Lithuania). / Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili derides a meeting initiated by President Mikheil Saakashvili saying it was just 'a meeting for the sake of a meeting'. (Saakashvili says the meeting was 'interesting' with shared views about care for Georgia’s peace and stability. / The leader of 'Kazakhstan's Ak Zhol party suggests banning officials from having foreign bank accounts, quoting international experts as saying that over $138bn have been taken from the country to offshore banks since the early 1990s (double the amount from Russia, taking accounht ot the countries' respective economic size). / The summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych discuss gas prices, economic cooperation in the post-Soviet space including through integration of Ukraine into the Customs Union (Putin qualifies it as a “political choice for Ukraine itself”). / Ukraine government decides to privatise six regional energy firms, expecting to earn $187m-250m.
03 Mar. Officers of the Russian Federal Migration Service interrupt a play about the trial of Pussy Riot members at the Sakharov Centre in Moscow allegedly for checking there were no foreigners among the Centre’s employees; Swiss director Milo Rau, who has staged a play about three court trials linked to religion, is warned he may not take employment in Russia as he entered the country on a business visa.
02 Mar. Russia-US adoption death ruled an accident(Texas medical examiner's finding) BBC / Russian politics - Putin's purges (Econ) / An awkward partnership - Ukraine and the European Union (Econ)
-- Children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, complains that Russia has still not received any official documents relating to the Texas authorities’ inquiry into the death of the Russian adopted boy Maxim Kuzmin. / A thousand people march in Moscow ‘for the rights of Moscovites’ over housing conditions, the fate of detained activists, and preparations for elections to Moscow City Council in 2014. / In central Moscow, 11,000 people answered to a call to ‘Moscow mothers’ to march against foreign adoptions, in demand of better care of orphans in Russia. / After 11 years of negotiation, Tajikistan becomes a full member of the WTO. / A majority of delegates vote in favour of disbanding the party Our Ukraine, of former president Viktor Yushchenko, who was expelled from the party in February.
01 Mar. Hollande and Putin warm relarions (Talks cover mutual investment.) MT / Poutine et Hollande jouent la conciliation (No effusion but willingness to come closer over some subjects.) Le Figaro / Usmanov unloads Mail.ru shares, boosting war chest (FT)/ Cossack cadets fill a gap in Russia's sense of security and patriotism (Guard/Le Monde)
-- The three parties of the Moldovan ruling coalition agree to join in an attempt to prevent a parliamentary no-confidence vote expected from the Communist opposition on 5 March. / Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev signs a decree nominating candidates to the boards of directors of the state-controlled companies Rosneft and Transneft; the list includes BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley, nominated to Rosneft board of directors as a country representative. / Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf says there is a national consensus on building strong ties with Russia in his country based on economic cooperation, including the trans-regional energy projects CASA (Central Asia-South Asia)-1000 and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline; as well as on the war against terrorism. / The Russian Duma starts working on a new Kremlin bill on elections which return to the mixed system with half the Duma members being elected by proportional representation, and the other half from single-seat constituencies; the threshold for parties to obtain representation will go down from 7% to 5% of the national vote. / The director of the Agency for Military-Technical Cooperation says that Russia lost hundreds of millions of dollars through non-fulfilment of a contract to sell S-300 client-specified air defence systems to Iran, whuch is bringing a $4bn lawsuit against Russia. / Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signs the amended law requiring voting in person in parliament, after 17 days delay by the opposition.
For continuation see 'Fifty-nine Days, January-February 2013'.
17 May 2013
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