Weekly News #13a
Top headlines this week include: Russia harboring Bosnian war criminals, opposition lose heavily in Kyrgyz elections and details of a new Chamber, appointed by Putin of course, to oversee the Duma.
(This week’s roundup, by the way, is numbered 13a as I accidentally posted number 13 a couple of hours early, before I had finished writing it).
- Russia has been accused of harboring Bosnian-Serbs wanted for war crimes by the International Tribunal in the Hague, including some men suspected of involvement in the massacre at Srebrenica. The news comes following the surrender of Gojko Jankovic, who appears to have spent the last four years in the company of a government minder in Moscow.
- The EU is trying to negotiate an open-skies deal with Russia and China.
- Russia has confirmed it’s support for the ‘one China’ policy following the adoption of an anti-secession law by China in relation to Taiwan. Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have joined the chorus.
- In an attempt to quiet Israeli concerns about the sale of the Strelets anti-aircraft missile system to Syria, Russia has offered to give a demonstration of the missile’s effectiveness, or rather, its ineffectiveness, to Israel.
- The WW2 execution of up to 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn was not a genocide, Russian prosecutors have said. The criminal case, brought last year, has now been closed.
- The NATO-Russia council has convened in Moscow.
- A number of Russian ships from the Black Sea Fleet are to join NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, which patrols the Mediterranean monitoring shipping and attempting to disrupt terrorism.
- The EU has dodged a Russian ban on vegetable and plant imports.
- The Kyrgyz parliamentary elections have concluded with second round run-off votes in 39 of the 75 constituencies. Unsurprisingly the opposition took a beating and ended up with only 6 seats in the new parliament. Anti-government protests continue outside of the capital – one local governor has been taken hostage.
- CIS observers have declared that the election in Kyrgyzstan was free and fair. Despite – perhaps because of – not being invited into Moldova, they felt confident enough to declare that the election in Moldova was rigged by the anti-Russian Communist government.
- Georgia and Russia have announced they will hold talks on 23-24 March about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia.
- Up to 4,000 people took to the streets of Akhalkalaki, Georgia to protest against the closure of the Russian base there. It employs 15% of the town’s workforce.
- Anti-government protests continue in Azerbaijan.
- Russia has promised to bring up the issue of unfair treatment of Russian speakers in Estonia and Latvia at the UN. It has meanwhile warned the EU and US not to seek a UN vote on human rights violations in Chechnya.
- The Duma has approved President Putin’s plan for a Public Chamber to oversee the Russian parliament. The first 42 members will be appointed by Putin. These members will then go on to appoint the next 84 members.
- Garry Kasparov, world champion for 15 years, has quit chess for politics. He is chairman of Committee 2008, which aims to rid Russia of Putin. Kasparov is a liberal who has dabbled previously in politics, but with little impact.
- A reward 0f $10 million has been paid by the Russian government to informers who gave them the whereabouts of Chechnya’s rebel President Aslan Maskhadov, killed last week. The same amount is on offer for information leading to the capture of Shamil Basayev.
- Rumours are surfacing that the Kremlin plans to wind down the United Russia party and form a new one in time for the 2007 parliamentary elections.
- It looks like the on-again, off-again Gazprom-Rosneft merger is on-again. It should be completed by June, says the state energy minister.
- Russia has 27 dollar billionaires, says Forbes. Roman Abramovic is Russia’s richest man, although his $13 billion isn’t quite enough to buy him a place in the world’s top 20. The former Soviet Union’s other six billionaires reside in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
- An airliner carrying 49 passengers has crashed while landing in Northern Russia. There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties, and reports of up to 23 survivors.
- The IOC is visiting Moscow this week, assessing the city’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.
- 3 men from Kyrgyzstan have been deported for preaching Wahhabism.
- Stem cell injections are the latest health craze sweeping Russia. The injections, which are offered by unlicensed clinics, are said to make people look and feel years younger.