News Summary

The Vostok Report

A weekly summary to 22 February 2013

16 February: Russian president Vladimir Putin has opened the most recent meeting of the G20 in Moscow. He used the occasion to underscore Russia’s ‘exemplary’ financial and fiscal policy.

Source: Tagesschau.de

18 February: The notorious Magnitsky affair which has led to considerable diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United States has yet again made international headlines after a pre-trial hearing against the late Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky has been postponed by a Moscow court. The case itself is unprecedented in that it is the first posthumous trial in Soviet and Russian legal history.

Source: BBC News

19 February: The death of a Russian adoptee in the United States has added fuel to the flames of the diplomatic squabble over the adoption regulations just three weeks after the Russian State Duma passed a law banning American citizens from fostering Russian orphans. The incident is likely to be one of the main topics during the meeting of US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Germany next week, although President Putin has adopted a conciliatory tone.

Source: BBC and RIA Novosti

21 February: Russian blogger Alexi Navalny won a minor victory ahead of his forthcoming fraud trial, as the Head of the Duma’s Ethics Committee, Vladimir Pekhtin, was forced to resign. Pekhtin, accused of illegally owning property abroad, denies wrongdoing

Source: Radio Free Europe

Consistent with general expectations, Armenia’s incumbent president Serzh Azati Sargsyan came first in Monday’s presidential elections, taking just below 59 percent of the vote. The results were subsequently contested by main rival and former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian and his supporters. However, the OSCE and EU have largely accepted the results.

Source: Radio Free Europe

A Belarusian border guard has been sentenced to two years in prison for failing to stop a last year’s teddy bear protest. In July 2012, a Swedish plane had penetrated Belarusian airspace dropping several hundred teddy bears carrying protest messages. This follows the sacking of two defence officials last year, in response to the incident.

Source: UDF.by

20 February: Following mass protests and riots, the Bulgarian government under Prime Minister Borisov has jointly stepped down. The wave of political discontent had been preceded by protests against high electricity prices in the poorest country of the European Union.

Source: Die Zeit

International talks on the unresolved Transdniester issue were held in the city of Lviv, Ukraine. Negotiations took place in the 5+2 format, and highlighted three apparently soluble issues. Talks are scheduled to continue in May 2013.

Source: Radio Free Europe and Kyiv Post

February 17 witnessed the fifth anniversary of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. Kosovo is still not recognized by numerous countries, including the Russian Federation and Serbia, which continues to regard it as secessionist province.

Source: BBC News

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