Regional Press Review (2-7 September)
More than 50 Crimean Tatars have been detained by the Russian intelligence service Crimea.
- Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova declared that Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, had first detained five minority Crimean Tatar activists, including well-known activist Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy chairman of the Mejlis representative body for the Tatars in Crimea, and raided their homes. In response, more than 50 Crimean Tatars gathered in front of the FSB’s branch in Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, to protest the detentions. Consequently, more than 50 Crimean Tatars that attended the protest have been ‘shoved into buses with force, beaten and taken to police precincts. (Radio Free Europe, September 5)
Protesters gather in Moscow to condemn the Government’s pressure on independent media.
- Dozens of people gathered in central Moscow on September 4 to protest the Russian Government’s recent crackdown on independent media. Participants at the rally on Chistoprudny Boulevard were mostly members of the Yabloko opposition party, journalists, and opposition candidates in Russia’s September 19 Parliamentary elections. In their speeches, the candidates condemned the Government’s recent designation of several independent media outlets and journalists as “foreign agents”. (Radio Free Europe, September 4)
Moscow Arbitration Court banned Google and Yandex from showing results for “smart voting”.
- The bans were issued as interim measures on the claims of the Stavropol Company “Woolintertrade”. This decision comes after earlier in September, Apple and Google were demanded to remove the Navalny app from the respective online stores. (Meduza, September 5)
Berlin protests to Moscow over pre-election cyberattacks.
- German officials highlighted Russia’s attempts to teal data from politicians in what it suspects could be an attempt to spread ‘disinformation’ ahead of German elections later this year. “The Federal Government strongly urges the Russian Government to stop these unacceptable cyber activities with immediate effect,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Andrea Sasse declared on September 6. (Radio Free Europe, September 6)
Russian Duma candidate barred for owning ‘foreign’ shares in Russian companies.
- The Russian Supreme Court has barred Dmitry Potapenko, a candidate for the center-left Russian Party for Freedom and Justice, from running in upcoming legislative elections because he allegedly held shares in Russian companies listed on foreign exchanges. Potapenko, who was running for the State Duma, denied the allegation in an interview with Novaya Gazeta on September 1, declaring that he did not own shares in Yandex and Sberbank, but depositary receipts. (Current Time, September 6)
Armenia will take part in the Russian-Belarusian military drills.
- Armenian soldiers flew to Russia over the weekend to participate in large-scale Russian-Belarusian military exercises that have prompted concern from NATO. The weeklong “Zapad-2021” exercises are due to start on September 10 at training grounds in Russia and Belarus. They will involve thousands of troops as well as tanks, artillery, and military aircraft. Armenia moved to deepen its already close military ties with Russia shortly after the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November. (Radio Free Europe, September 6)
The Netherlands to assist Armenia in judicial reforms.
- The Armenian Justice Minister, Karen Andreasyan, and the Dutch Ambassador, Nico Schermers, discussed the cooperation between the two countries. Schermers stated that the Netherlands is open to all proposals and expressed readiness to deepen the cooperation in several directions. Andreasyan presented the wishes connected to the justice field: reforming the Constitution, reforming the correctional and probation systems, and the digitization of the judicial system. These are the big issues, and reforming them without the support of international partners would be difficult. (Armenpress, September 6)
Azerbaijan and Turkey conduct military exercises in Lachin District.
- On September 6, Azerbaijani and Turkish militaries launched their joint exercises in the Lachin District, across which the corridor connecting Yerevan and Stepanakert passes. During the Karabakh conflict escalation in the fall of 2020, Turkey repeatedly expressed support for Azerbaijan. (Caucasian Knot, September 7)
NATO Greenlights Idea of Building EU Rapid Reaction Force.
- NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg confirmed that he supported the plans of the EU to build a common defense policy, but he warned against any rapid reaction force that might duplicate allied operations. EU Defense Ministers are considering creating a “first entry force” of 5,000 troops, saying the bloc needed to react to conflicts beyond its borders, spurred by the chaotic Western withdrawal from Afghanistan. (Novinite, September 4)
Bulgarians to head to the polls a third time this year.
- Bulgaria will have its third national election this year after the Socialist party became the third political party to refuse to lead a government following July’s inconclusive Parliamentary election. According to analysts, the game-changer this time could be a new political force. (Novinite, September 6)
Georgian President criticizes the Government for rejecting the EU’s help.
- The Government’s refusal to accept the financial help offered by the European Union of 75 million euros will affect citizens’ well-being and the country’s reputation, President Zurabishvili has stated. The refusal to take the EU’s loan will lead to a weakening of the European community’s interest in the country and the region, as well as contribute to external and internal forces wishing to destabilize the situation in the country, according to the President. (Caucasian Knot, September 3)
Moldovan-French bilateral cooperation was discussed in Chisinau.
- The French FM, Yves Le Drian, has discussed bilateral cooperation with the Moldavian counterpart, Nicu Popescu, in Chisinau. The French Minister has affirmed France’s full support as to the priorities launched by President Sandu. Le Drian has also stated that France and Moldova had agreed on continuing the political exchanges for the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit, scheduled for next December, and the forthcoming French EU Presidency in the first half of 2022. (Moldpres, September 2)
Usatîi resigns as mayor of Balti and intends to create a new party.
- Usatîi announced that he will resign as the Mayor of the municipality of Balti because he is dissatisfied with the results achieved by the Bloc “Renato Usatîi” in the northern region of Moldova in the snap Parliamentary elections of July 11. The Deputy Mayors and municipal councilors will serve for the local public administration until November 21, when local elections are to be held in the municipality. (IPN, September 3)
USR-PLUS pulls out of the Government.
- The Junior ruling partner, USR-PLUS, decided to pull its Ministers out of Romania’s Government, thus forcing the senior ruling partner, PNL, to either dismiss PM Florin Citu and negotiate for a new executive team, or keep the Government of PM Citu alive but face a de-facto no-confidence motion in Parliament within 45 days. (Romanian Insider, September 7)
Social Democrats boycott no-confidence motion.
- The no-confidence motion filed by USR-PLUS and AUR is stuck in Parliament’s procedures after the Social Democratic Party (PSD) refused for the third time, by boycott, to schedule it for a vote in the sitting chambers. (Romanian Insider, September 7)
Ankara voiced concern over the arrest of a senior Crimean Tatar figure.
- Foreign Ministry spokesman Bilgiç stated that the Ministry has received news that Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy head of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, has been detained and taken to an unknown place following a raid on his house in Crimea early on Saturday and that his whereabouts are yet unknown. Bilgiç added that Turkey is following the developments with concern and is expecting Dzhelyal and the four other Crimean Tatars arrested with him to return to their homes and families as soon as possible. (Hurriyet, September 5)
U.S. intends to invest in Ukraine reforms over $460M in 2021.
- The United States has invested about $2 billion in reforms pursued by Ukraine, planning to provide another $463 million before year-end. That is according to a joint statement on the U.S.-Ukraine strategic partnership, published on the website of the Ukrainian President. (Ukrinform, September 7)
Ukrainian Defense Minister meets with U.S. Congress delegation.
- Ukrainian Defense Minister Taran has met with a delegation of the U.S. Congress to discuss the importance of assisting Ukraine in building its air defense and missile defense capabilities, as well as further joint decisions of the U.S. administration and Congress that will help restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s press service has reported. (Ukrinform, September 6)
EU Finance Ministers endorse the Czech national recovery plan.
- This action opens the way for the country to receive part of the funds allotted for its post-pandemic economic recovery. The Czech Republic should receive the first part of the 180 billion crowns economic aid package to which it is entitled later this month. It can collect up to 13 percent of the overall amount this year, the rest should be made available in the years to come. (Radio Prague International, September 6)
The Czech Government is unable to meet the European Commission’s deadline for the mechanism against conflict of interest.
- The Czech Republic will not be able to meet the EC’s deadline by which it was to have introduced an effective control mechanism to detect and prevent conflict of interest, the Czech Government acknowledged on Monday. The deadline will expire on September 8 and the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked for a postponement. The European Commission recently warned Prague that unless the Government introduces an effective control mechanism against conflict of interest it may suspend the further payment of subsidies until it does. (Radio Prague International, September 6)
Hungarian Government further extends the “State of Crisis” due to mass migration.
- The Government has decided to extend by another six months the “state of crisis” in connection with mass migration due to the growing migration pressure on the Hungarian border and an anticipated new wave of migrants triggered by the developments in Afghanistan, the Government Information Centre has declared. (HungaryToday, September 4)
Poland to admit 500 Afghan evacuees for 3 months.
- Poland has agreed to admit 500 Afghan nationals for three months as a gesture of solidarity with its allies, Michał Dworczyk, a top aide to PM Morawiecki, declared. The group comprises people who worked with NATO during its 20-year mission in Afghanistan. Fifty of them are set to stay in Poland, while the rest will head to other destinations over the next quarter. (Polskie Radio, Septemeber 3)
Polish FM holds talks with top Lithuanian officials in Vilnius.
- Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues as well as economic and scientific cooperation with his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis, according to the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw. The two top diplomats talked about security policy and measures to contain a migrant crisis on the border with Belarus, according to officials. (Polskie Radio, September 6)
Former General Prosecutor refuses plea bargain on the first day of trial.
- Former General Prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka, stood trial on September 6. Trnka is charged with abusing the authority of a public official, for which he faces two to ten years in prison. If the court rules that he caused significant damage, the penalty could be even higher. It is the first case in Slovak history in which a former general prosecutor has faced charges (Slovak Spectator, September 6)
EU Foreign and Defense Ministers meet in Slovenia.
- EU Ministers are meeting in Slovenia as part of the country’s EU presidency to discuss several topics, including the security and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan after international troops pulled out of the Asian country. (STA, September 2)
Five Afghans who worked with the EU arrive in Slovenia.
- A group of five Afghans who worked with the EU delegation in the country has arrived in Slovenia along with their family members, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed. In total, 19 Afghans have thus arrived in Slovenia after withdrawing from the country in the wake of the Taliban taking over. (STA, September 4)
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