Weekly News #6

Foreign Affairs

CIS

  • Viktor Yushchenko was inaugurated as Ukrainian President Sunday.  He quickly appointed Yulia Timoshenko as his Prime Minister, a job which could prove difficult considering that Russia has vowed it will not drop the Interpol arrest warrant accusing her of bribing Russian military officials.  (This is despite the fact that the Russian officials accused of taking the bribes were themselves cleared of any wrongdoing by a Russian court in 2003).
  • Georgia has reached a deal to restructure its debt to Russia.  The first half of the $94.43 million owed is to be paid by the end of 2006.  A six year grace period will then follow, after which the second half is to be paid over a period of 23 years.
  • Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has offered an autonomy deal to the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.  Georgia gets control of security, foreign policy and finance.  South Ossetia get to control education, language, culture and public order.  The South Ossetians seem unimpressed by the offer.
  • The UN envoy to Abkhazia reckons that the recent Presidential election there could pave the way to a resumption of peace talks with Georgia.

Domestic

  • Pensioners continue to protest against the introduction of a new law replacing benefits such as bus passes with cash.  Communist Party head Gennady Zyuganov has claimed the credit for organising the protests and is trying to collect enough signatures to force a vote of no confidence in the government.  Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of six MPs from the opposition Rodina party who remain on hunger strike, the issue seems to be fading away. 
  • Soldiers, who also lost benefits under the new law, are about to receive a 20% pay increase to compensate, if Putin’s latest declaration is to be believed.
  • Sergei Darkin has become the first governor to ask President Putin for his endorsement following the introduction of a post-Beslan law abolishing gubernatorial elections in Russia.  The governor of the Primorye region has five months left on his term and could resign if he isn’t approved.
  • 19 Russian MPs and around 500 academics signed a letter to the Russian Prosecutor General calling for the banning of all Jewish organisations from Russia.  The MPs later retracted the letter without giving their reasons.
  • Families in Beslan blocked the highway into town for several days, demanding that the republic’s President step down over his mishandling of the school siege.
  • Police in the North Caucasus are besieging an apartment where Muslim Atayev, who is accused of leading a recent raid on an anti-drug agency, is though to be hiding.
  • 100 Students from Guinea Bissau studying in Russia today stormed their country’s embassy in Moscow.  They say they intend to hold the ambassador hostage until their are paid their monthly stipend.  The ambassador was too embarrassed to call for police assistance.

And finally…

  • A SU-27 interceptor from Kaliningrad was scrambled to intercept what was thought to be a light plane from Lithuania violating Russian airspace.  It turned out to be a cloud.

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1 Response

  1. January 29, 2005

    Russian news update

    Andy has also posted his weekly Russia news update. I love things like this.

    But I find it interesting how authoritarian governments handle welfare. He is giving out 20% pay increases to troops and adding to pensions because of the recent protests. …