Regional Press Review (23-29 Iunie)
Nine million Russians “deprived of right to be elected”.
- Legal restrictions enacted by the government have deprived at least 9 million Russians—8% of the eligible population—of their right to be elected in the September parliamentary elections, according to an analysis of the impact of a series of recent legal amendments performed by independent monitoring group Golos. (Radio Free Europe June 23)
EU drops proposed Putin summit after objections from members bordering Russia.
- EU leaders on June 24 considered whether to seek a summit with President Putin as part of a new strategy to manage ties with Moscow. The initiative, proposed by France and Germany and welcomed by Moscow, was ultimately dropped following objections from EU countries close to Russia’s border, who stated that “it would send the wrong message.” Instead, EU leaders agreed to explore formats and conditionalities of dialogue with Russia. (Euractiv June 24; Euractiv June 25)
Russia reports firing “warning shots” at British destroyer near Crimea; the U.K. denies it.
- On June 23, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that it fired “warning shots” and dropped bombs to deter a British Royal Navy destroyer that allegedly violated its state border in the Black Sea. The British authorities denied the claims, maintaining that the ship was conducting “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters” near the Crimean Peninsula. British Ambassador Bronner was summoned to the Russian MFA and handed a demarche over the incident. Russia is ready to consider all manner of responses to the “provocative actions,” with Deputy FM Ryabkov threatening to “drop bombs” if such incidents are repeated. (Meduza June 23; Radio Free Europe June 24)
Another man arrested in Crimea accused of spying for Ukraine.
- Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea have arrested a man on charges of spying for Kyiv, the second person detained for alleged espionage on the peninsula since April. The Kyiv district court in Simferopol June 24 sent the man to pretrial detention until August 21, after charging him with collecting data on the flights of Russian military planes for Ukrainian intelligence. (Radio Free Europe June 24)
Czech Republic demands full reparation from Russia over 2014 explosions in Vrbetice.
- Prague has invoked Russia’s responsibility under international law for its alleged involvement in two fatal explosions at military ammunition depots in Vrbetice in 2014, requesting $30.5 million in reparations for the damage caused by the blasts. The Russian Foreign Ministry declared that it is “extorted” for “an uncommitted [crime].” (Meduza June 28)
U.S. Embassy to stop consular services in Russia from August 1.
From August 1, 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow will stop providing consular services and processing visa applications due to the reduction in staff at its diplomatic mission. (Meduza June 28)
Russian court denies U.S. Marine’s appeal.
- A Russian court has upheld the nine-year prison sentence of U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was convicted in July 2020 for assaulting two police officers in what the U.S. ambassador to Moscow called “another absurd miscarriage of justice.” (Radio Free Europe June 28)
Russia, China extend treaty, hail ties.
- China and Russia will extend a 20-year-old friendship treaty for another five years. “As the world has entered a period of turbulence and change, and humanity faces various risks, close Sino–Russian cooperation brings positive energy to the international community,” President Xi declared, adding that the relations between Russia and China “set an example for the formation of a new type of international relations.” (The Moscow Times June 28)
Rights activists dispute Russia’s U.N. Report on Navalny protests.
- Russian human rights activists have criticized the country’s official report to the U.N. regarding its detentions of protesters at this winter’s nationwide pro-Navalny protests, urging the U.N. High Commissioner to “draw conclusions unfavorable for the government of the Russian Federation.” In its report, Russia stated that police detained 17,600 people at the protests, and defended the record number of detentions as enforcements of Russian protest law. (The Moscow Times June 24)
Pro-opposition village chief “beaten up for refusing to resign”.
- The mayor of a large village in the Lori province supporting the opposition Hayastan alliance claims to have been beaten up on Tuesday after rejecting the provincial governor’s demands to step down. Mayor Titanian claims he was assaulted by about a dozen men moments after leaving Lori Governor Khachatrian’s office, and that unknown individuals broke into a shop belonging to his sister. (Azatutyun June 23)
Kocharian’s bloc to take up parliament seats despite fraud claims.
- The Hayastan alliance will accept the parliament seats won in the general elections despite rejecting the official results as fraudulent and wanting to challenge them in the Constitutional Court to overturn them. The U.S. has called on the Armenian opposition to accept the official results that gave victory to PM Pashinyan and his party. (Azatutyun June 22; Azatutyun June 22)
Armenia sees Russian troop deployment in another border region.
- Russia will likely deploy troops in another Armenian region bordering Azerbaijan as soon as they agree in terms of time frames and technical issues. Gegharkunik’s governor announced the impending deployment of Russian border guards there, adding that it will be followed by the withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces from contested border portions. (Azatutyun June 22)
Specialized Prosecutor’s Office charges leader of political party with espionage.
- The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office has submitted an indictment to the Specialized Criminal Court against a leader of a political party for espionage with the aim of disclosing a state secret. The prosecutor’s office is not revealing the name of the politician charged with espionage, only his initials—N.M. (IBNA June 23)
EU says no to accession talks.
- The General Affairs Council of the EU has failed to reach an agreement on starting EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. While all 27 EU ministers in the case of Albania, and 26 in the case of North Macedonia, agreed that the two countries have met the criteria for talks to begin, Bulgaria’s veto on North Macedonia blocked both countries’ progress, leaving Albania with no date for talks given that its EU path is tied to that of its neighbor. (IBNA June 22)
U.S. Embassy: April 19 deal specifies halting judicial appointments.
- The U.S. Embassy in Georgia declared that by signing the April 19 deal, the Georgian Dream Party and opposition agreed to pause ongoing judicial appointments and “committed to comprehensive and inclusive judicial reform,” including “new legislation on Supreme Court nominations.” Previously, Georgian Dream Chairperson MP Kobakhidze announced that Parliament would not halt the appointment process of Supreme Court Judges as the ruling party had already “fulfilled obligations to reform the candidate selection procedure ahead of signing the April 19 deal.” (civil.ge June 23)
LGBT opponents announce protests in Tbilisi.
- Opponents of the gay parade in Tbilisi intend to take control over Rustaveli Avenue in order to prevent the “March of Dignity” from being held on July 5. LGBT community organizers have called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to react to the threats of violence and ensure the participants’ safety. (Caucasian Knot June 25)
Visit to Brussels in Associated Trio format.
- The Associated Trio Foreign Ministers performed their first joint working visit to Brussels on June 24–25, where they met with high level EU officials and institutions to discuss various aspects of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine’s European integration and EU membership goals. (Moldpres June 24; civil.ge June 25)
Senate adopts bill ratifying Romania–U.S. government cooperation accord for Cernavodă nuclear energy projects.
- The Senate adopted on Tuesday the bill ratifying the Romania–U.S. government cooperation Accord on nuclear energy projects at Cernavodă and in the civil nuclear energy sector. The Accord calls for upgrading Unit 1 and expanding the capacity of the Cernavodă Nuclear Power Plant by building Units 3 and 4 using CANDU 6 technology. (Actmedia June 23)
OLAF investigates how Romania used EUR 1 billion for Danube Delta.
- OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office, is investigating how EU funds worth EUR 1 billion were spent in the Danube Delta, after an Investigative Journalism for Europe investigation found that the one billion euros earmarked for the Danube Delta development to improve the locals’ living standard was shared by a handful of people connected through personal relationships, business or political interests. (Romania Insider June 25)
EU presses Turkey to maintain calm hoping for better ties.
- EU leaders on June 24 pressed Turkey to keep de-escalating tensions with the bloc as they eyed improving ties with Ankara. As part of its strategy, the EU is readying a plan to provide Turkey with €3.5 billion in extra funding from 2021 to 2024 to help it host millions of refugees from Syria as part of a broader €5.7 billion package for Syria’s neighbors. Brussels is also dangling the possible modernization of a customs union in front of Turkey and is moving to restart high-level talks on issues from health to security. (Euractiv June 25)
Canadian report blames Iranian “recklessness” for downing Ukrainian passenger jet.
- An official report by Canadian experts says it has found no evidence that the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane shot down after takeoff from Tehran early last year was “premeditated,” but concluded that Iran was “fully responsible” nonetheless, as the incident would not have occurred if not for the “incompetence, recklessness, and wanton disregard for human life” of Iranian officials. The report also acknowledged a lack of access to the evidence, crash site, and witnesses. (Radio Free Europe June 25)
“Roma lives matter”: candles, flowers appear in Teplice.
- Candles and a black ribbon with the phrase “Romani Lives Matter” have appeared on a street in Teplice where a Romani man died in an ambulance on June 19 after police restrained him by kneeling on his neck, in an incident compared by Romani activists to the death of George Floyd. Deputy PM and Interior Minister Hamáček has defended the actions of the police against “those breaching the law under the influence of narcotics.” A protest was scheduled in Teplice on Saturday. (Expats.cz June 22)
Czech PM slammed for his stance on Teplice case.
- The civic members of the Government Council for the Roma Minority Affairs have distanced themselves from PM Babiš and Deputy PM Hamáček’s words backing the police after the latter’s action in Teplice, stating that the two officials undermined the impartiality of the investigation and demanding they attend the council meeting on June 30 to guarantee an impartial investigation. (Expats.cz June 24)
Czech president criticizes Me Too movement, LGBTQ+ events.
- President Zeman has criticized those fighting for women’s political rights and castigated the Me Too movement, as well as LGBTQ+ events like the Prague Pride festival when commenting on a Hungarian law that bans LGBT material from schools, declaring that he finds transgender people “disgusting” and calling gender reassignment surgeries “a crime of self-harm.” Zeman added that “openly manifest[ing] their orientation [means] they look down on others” and that if he would hold protest events for heterosexuals if were younger. (Euractiv June 28; expats.cz June 28)
V4 Foreign Ministers adopt joint position on Western Balkans.
- The Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group, at their June 28 meeting in Poland, expressed their strong and unequivocal support for the aspirations of the European countries of the Western Balkans in a joint statement. The meeting agenda included issues related to the EU enlargement policy, cooperation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic reconstruction, and strengthening regional partnerships. (Poland.IN June 28)
Hundreds of people pay tribute to deceased Roma man in Teplice.
- Hundreds of people gathered in Teplice on June 27 to pay tribute to Stanislav Tomáš, the Roma man who died after a police intervention. The planned peaceful gathering turned into a protest march. Protesters blame police for the death of Tomáš, but police deny any misconduct. (Expats.cz June 27)
Hungarian president signs LGBTQI+ bill into law.
- President Áder has signed a controversial LGBTQI+ bill into law despite an international outcry and threats of legal action from the European Commission. 13 EU countries in a joint statement condemned the legal amendments as discriminating LGBTIQ persons and violating the right to freedom of expression “under the pretext of protecting children;” the EU countries that didn’t ratify the Istanbul Convention remained silent. Hungarian officials have called the statements “biased” and a “clash of ideologies.” (Euractiv June 24; Euractiv June 23)
Orbán, EU leaders clash over controversial LGBT law.
- Ahead of the June 24–25 EU summit intended to focus on foreign policy issues regarding Russia and Turkey, leaders from 17 EU countries signed a letter deploring any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, stating that “respect and tolerance are at the core of the European project.” At the summit, PM Orbán insisted that the law was only about letting parents decide how they wish to sexually educate their children and that it will not be revoked. Orbán was virtually isolated as most of his 26 counterparts rounded on him in an “in-depth and at times even emotional debate”—Dutch PM Rutte stated that the country no longer has a place in the EU. The Hungarian bill has also triggered a spat between Hungary and Germany over rainbow lights during the Euro 2020 tournament. (Euractiv June 25; Radio Free Europe June 25)
Former Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács found guilty of espionage to Russia.
- The Metropolitan Court of Appeals has found former Jobbik MEP Kovács guilty of charges of espionage and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment suspended for a period of five years. Kovács did not appear in court for the verdict, as he has been staying in Russia since last year. (Hungary Today June 25)
Hungary’s Deputy PM makes surprise visit to Armenia.
- Hungary’s Deputy PM Semjen joined a group of Hungarian academics in visiting Armenia on Friday despite the virtual absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Armenia froze relations in 2012 over the Hungarian government’s positive relations and support for Azerbaijan. (Azatutyun June 25)
Cyber-attacks on Poland linked to Russian secret services.
- Poland’s counterintelligence units have found that “the target of the recent social engineering attacks was over 4,000 accounts of Polish e-mail users” from various political backgrounds, media and NGO workers, and over 100 public officials. Poland’s security services stated that the actions of the UNC1151 group are part of the “Ghostwriter” campaign aiming to destabilize the political situation in Central Europe. The attacks were discussed at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels on Wednesday. (Polskie Radio June 22)
Polish Education Minister calls for Poland to copy Hungarian LGBT law.
- The Polish Education Minister on June 28 called for Poland to copy a Hungarian law that bans schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality “in its entirety.” Education Minister Czarnek drew sharp criticism from the opposition last week for comments about an LGBT Equality Parade in Warsaw when he questioned the acceptability of “these people” to come out on the streets and “offend Catholics in a vulgar way.” (Euractiv June 29)
Poland, Israel each summon their respective ambassadors.
- Poland and Israel each summoned their respective ambassadors for meetings on Sunday regarding an amendment to the Code of Administrative Procedures passed in the lower house of the parliament last week—according to the bill, courts may consider appeals regarding administrative decisions on property only if they were made within the previous 30 years. Israel called the bill a “disgrace” as it could affect up to 90% of property restitution requests from Holocaust survivors and their descendants; Poland assured that the contested legislation does not refer to the Holocaust in any way. (Poland.IN June 28)
Slovenia added to CIVICUS watchlist for decline in fundamental civil liberties.
- CIVICUS, an international alliance of NGOs, has placed Slovenia on its list of countries to be monitored for a decline in fundamental civil liberties, stating that civil society organizations have been undermined by funding cuts and that journalists and the national press agency have been targeted under the Janša’s Government. (STA June 23)
Web platform launched to boost political responsibility.
- The Oštro Center For Investigative Journalism and the Danes Je Nov Dan institute launched on Monday a web platform where a list of promises made by politicians will be published, aiming to increase political responsibility, strengthen trust in politicians, and encourage participation in political processes. (STA June 22)
Government will fund Slovenian Press Agency, if certain conditions are met.
- The Government, acting as the STA’s sole shareholder, asked its communication office to transfer a EUR 845,000 advance to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) for the expected expenses related to the performance of public service once the STA provides UKOM with access into business documentation for the last ten years and if a contract on public service is signed. (STA June 28)
#Te-ar mai putea interesa și
#Buletin de știri