January 29, 2009

News Roundup

At the World Economic Forum, where Putin gave the opening address, there was much blame placed on the United States for the current financial crisis. While Putin wasn't as "harsh" as he has been in the past few months, he commented on how "investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exsist." Also in economic related news, Romania is in talks with the EU for a 6 billion Euro "rescue loan" to help the country buffer itself from the economic downturn and Siberia's currancy has lost a quarter of it's value in 4 months

In a follow-up from the last news roundup, about a week ago, Russia started to pump gas through Ukraine again, and the New York Times has a good piece about Putin's understanding of the use of energy as a political tool. While only slightly related, the Eurasian Daily Moniter has some good commentary about border disputes and Russia, focusing on Ukraine. 

In the Caucasus we have a Russian soldier who either deserted or was captured by Georgia, depending on who you ask. This piece on Azerbaijan's position between Russia and the West is also interesting, and the reports that Russia has given free arms to Armenia (denied by both countries) shows what a power Russia continues to be in the region. 

On the BBC: Polish WWII hero was not murdered, and the sad reality of selling babies in Tajikistan.

January 23, 2009

More on Russia and Georgia

In my feed reader this morning was this piece from the New York Times on the Human Rights Watch report on the Russian and Georgian conflict in August. The 200 page report accuses both Russia and Georgia of using unnecessary force where civilians were involved and says that it seems Ossetian militias were attempting to ethnically cleanse Georgian villages in South Ossetia. 

I searched a little and found that Human Rights Watch has its own summary of the report, and the report is also available to download in English or Russian in its entirety. 

January 15, 2009

News Roundup

I sure hope everybody in Chicago is staying warm! I read an interesting blog post about what people in Estonia are doing to beat the winter blues. In Tallinn, the capital city, they're holding a light festival running for almost a month, where they're going to create as much natural light as possible by creating burning scupltures and seting up light displays all over the city. The website of the festival has pictures of some of the exhibits. 

It would be remiss of me to not to mention the Russia and Ukraine gas conflict. Today is the apparently the tenth day of the "dispute," which is causing most of Europe to be without it's Russian gas supplies. The dispute is over the price that Ukraine is going to pay for the gas. The BBC has an interesting article spotlighting what Europeans think of the whole situation. The Eurasia Daily Moniter has a good analysis with local news reports. 

Also recently, Albania completed the SAA ratification process, which is the final step in the application process to be in the EU, Belarus currancy has been devauled 20.5% against the dollar, and Turkmenistan has upped it's oil production 6% from last year.