News summary to 19 April
Serbia and Kosovo have reached preliminary agreement on an accord aimed at ‘normalising relations.’ Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovar leader Hashim Thaci were in Brussels for the 10th round of EU-mediated talks. The deal paves the way for both sides to open talks with the EU about prospective accession.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament adopted a resolution criticising Kazakhstan’s failure to respect political, media, and religious rights. The resolution stated its concerns about imprisoned opposition leaders and journalists. Earlier this week, President Nursultan Nasarbayev told a press conference in Finland that ‘religious freedom is fully ensured in our country’ and that his country was well along ‘the path’ of democracy development.
Russia issued a blacklist of eighteen Americans banned from entering its territory. The list was issued in response to the USA’s banning of eighteen named Russians from entering the USA under the Magnitsky Act. ‘The war of lists is not our choice, but we cannot ignore outright blackmail,’ said the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement last weekend.
Source: Daily Telegraph
The trial of Russian blogger and activist Alexey Navalny was adjourned until 24 April. Navalny is accused of involvement in the theft of 16 million roubles from a state owned timber company. He faces the prospect of up to ten years imprisonment.
Source: The Guardian
Three Belarusian journalists were found guilty of organising an ‘extremist’ photojournalism contest by Ashmyany District Court on Thursday. The Belarusian KGB had instigated the Court proceedings against Yulia Darashkevich, Aleksander Vasyukevich, and Vadzim Zamirouski, claiming that ‘the selection of the photo album’s materials in general reflects solely negative aspects of the Belarusian nation’s activities… insult[ing] the national honor and dignity of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus.’
Turkmenistan will offer tenants of government housing stock the ‘right-to-buy’ from July 1. The motivation behind home privatisation is unclear, but Eurasianet reports speculation that the state anticipates a good income from mortgages.