RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#121 contents with links :: Friday 30 May 2014

St. Basil's file photo

… 4. Wall Street Journal: East Ukraine Town Digs In for Fight. Pro-Russian Locals Rally to Repel Military Attempt to Retake Town, Blaming Government for Bloodshed.
5. Kyiv Post: Civilian Donbas Battalion forming National Guard unit.
6. Reuters: Quoting Old Testament, new pro-Russia militia group lines up in Ukraine.
7. The Herald (Scotland): Pro-Russian separatists beyond Kremlin control.
8. Reuters: Russia has withdrawn most troops from Ukraine border: U.S. official. …

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Reporter’s Notebook: Separatists In Eastern Ukraine Think Journalists Are Either For Them Or Against Them

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Aleksandra Vagner – LUHANSK, Ukraine, May 29, 2014) Probably the most surprising thing that struck me during my four days reporting from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine last week came as soon as I arrived. Men armed with automatic weapons stood around the station, watching everything that was going on. From what I’d read, I had expected such men […]

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Maidan comes to Abkhazia

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Islam Tekushev – May 28, 2014) Islam Tekushev is the editor-in-chief of the Caucasus Times. Events in Ukraine have both highlighted and influenced Abkhazia’s political divisions, as yesterday’s protests clearly demonstrate. The Crimean precedent has breathed a new divisive life into politics inside Abkhazia. Against the background of the Ukrainian crisis and the growing role of Russia in […]

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For Russia, Eurasian Union is About Politics, Not Economy

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – May 30, 2014) With the milestone agreement to create a Eurasian economic union clinched in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Russia put cheap energy resources at the head of its drive to pull former Soviet states away from European integration and into its orbit. The Eurasian Economic Union agreement, signed by the leaders of […]

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RIA Novosti: Abkhaz Leader Ready for Dialogue with Opposition, Rules Out Ultimatums

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – Abkhazia’s President Alexander Ankvab is ready to negotiate with the opposition to achieve “a concrete result”, but says that he will not accept any ultimatums. “The situation is difficult, but not critical We propose to engage in a dialogue [with the opposition] in a manner that would bring us a concrete result,” Ankvab said […]

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RIA Novosti: Opinion: Eurasian Union’s Economic Integration Stronger than EU’s

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

WASHINGTON, May 30 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The Eurasian Economic Union is a better, more realistic step towards economic integration than the European Union, and will be more productive, said Andrew McKillop, a former chief policy analyst at the European Commission Directorate General for Energy. “It is the right decision at the right time,” McKillop, now an independent journalist […]

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RIA Novosti: West Curtailing Missile Defense Cooperation With Russia – Foreign Ministry

Aegis Seaborne Missile Defense Launch file photo

MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – The decision by organizers to reject Moscow’s application to attend next month’s international conference on missile defense signals that the West is suspending talks with Russia on this issue, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday. “We point that this step fits in the general trend aiming at folding dialogue with Russia on missile defense […]

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Russian Skepticism about Parties Opening the Way to a Return to One Party Rule, Commentator Says

Duma Session file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, May 28, 2014) The share of Russians who are “skeptical” about the value of political parties for themselves and their country is opening the way for a return to a one party system, in some ways resembling the one that existed in Soviet times, according to a Moscow commentator. In a Rosbalt.ru […]

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Survey Sees Less Risk of Future Economic Sanctions Against Russia

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 30, 2014) The risk that the U.S. and European Union will slap further sanctions on Russia over Ukraine is subsiding, but the threat of a recession still looms over Russia, a Bloomberg poll of economists found. Half of the 32 economists questioned for the poll, released on Tuesday, said the Russian economy would slide […]

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TRANSCRIPT: State Department Daily Press Briefing (excerpt re Ukraine)

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

US Department of State Jen Psaki Spokesperson Daily Press Briefing Washington, DC May 27, 2014 (excerpt re Ukraine) QUESTION: Ukraine. You have seen reports, I presume, of the fighting that’s going on in Donetsk. I’m wondering if you have anything to say about that. MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, first, let me of course – I know we put out a […]

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RIA Novosti: Preview: Russia, EU, Ukraine Attempt to Resolve Gas Dispute for Third Time

Gas Flame file photo

MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – Officials from Russia, Ukraine and the EU are set to hold talks in Berlin on Friday, a third attempt to resolve the gas dispute caused by Ukraine’s $4 billion outstanding gas debt. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak is also scheduled to meet with EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on Friday. AND SO IT BEGINS […]

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Press Digest: Maidan activists release manifesto; Poroshenko profiled

Collage of Russian Newspapers

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyubinskaya, special to RBTH – May 29, 2014) RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media, featuring U.S. character references of Ukraine’s president-elect Petro Poroshenko, the options open to the new president, and the release of a manifesto by Maidan activists outlining their post-election vision. Russky Reporter In an editorial […]

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Why the next move will be decisive for Ukraine

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Fyodor Lukyanov, special to RBTH – May 30, 2014) The author is editor in chief of Russia in Global Politics magazine. The election of Petro Poroshenko marks a watershed moment in the Ukrainian crisis. There are now clear opportunities for both Kiev and the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” in the east of the country […]

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Russian Population to Fall by Half in 50 Years Even if Recent Fertility Rise Sustained, Moscow Demographer Says

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, May 29, 2014) Even if the recent much-ballyhooed rise in Russian fertility rate were to last and that is almost certainly impossible, a Moscow State University demographer says, the population of the country would decline by half over the next 50 years. In fact, it is likely to decline further and faster […]

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Russia Targets ‘Traitorous’ Dual Citizenship Holders

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – May 30, 2014) Russia is about to criminalize failure to declare dual citizenship in what lawmakers say is a bid to crack down on the “fifth column” – and the fifth column is duly scared. Exposing holders of multiple passports may be the first step to banning dual citizenship, said a holder […]

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Tax Breaks May Not Be Enough to Jumpstart Crimea’s Struggling Economy

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – May 30, 2014) In an effort to jumpstart Crimea’s faltering economy, a government plan could offer tax breaks and other juicy business conditions on the peninsula for the next half century – but even this may not be enough to attract businesses to the badly run-down region. Russian politicians began talking about […]

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What Are Eastern Ukraine’s (Legitimate) Grievances With Kyiv?

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Charles Recknagel – May 29, 2014) When Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko visits Donetsk after his inauguration next month, he is likely to get an earful of demands from eastern Ukrainians who are unhappy with Kyiv. Here are five things to know about why many harbor grievances against the Ukrainian authorities and how Poroshenko might address them. What are the main grievances? […]

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Ukraine’s Road to Normalcy

Maidan Square file photo

(Center for American Progress – americanprogress.org – Cory Welt [@cory_welt]) Cory Welt is an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for American Progress and the associate director and research professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University‘s Elliott School of International Affairs After three months of interim rule, Ukraine once again has a democratically elected president at the […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#120 contents with links :: Thursday 29 May 2014

St. Basil's file photo

… 17. Wall Street Journal: Mikheil Saakashvili, The Tasks Ahead for Ukraine’s New President.
18. The Peterson Institute for International Economics: Anders Aslund, Dissolve the Ukrainian Parliament!
19. The Guardian: Miners hold pro-Russia rally in Donetsk. Around 300 coalminers march through city centre in show of support for self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
20. Moscow Times: Chechens in Ukraine Capture Public Interest. …

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Moscow Places Near Bottom in TripAdvisor Cities Survey

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Breffny Morgan – May 29, 2014) Sanctions may come and go, but bad reviews last a lifetime. TripAdvisor, the second most popular travel website, has recently blasted Russia on several counts of being the world’s worst travel destination in its yearly Cities Survey. This is not an overt move by a TripAdvisor editorial team to […]

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Americans in Moscow Feel Chill in US-Russia Relations

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated Before Russian and U.S. Flags

(Voice of America – James Brooke – May 28, 2014) The American confrontation with Russia over Ukraine has caused relations between Moscow and Washington to plummet to the lowest level in a generation. American school children singing the Star Spangled Banner in the ballroom of Spaso House, the neoclassical ambassador’s residence in the heart of Moscow, seemed to signal that […]

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RIA Novosti: Opinion: Ukrainian Crisis ‘Emboldened Opposition’ in Abkhazia

Maidan Square file photo

WASHINGTON, May 29 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The Ukrainian crisis has had an immense effect on the opposition in Abkhazia, Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told RIA Novosti. “It’s a very complex situation in Abkhazia, maybe the ‘Maidan Effect’ has emboldened the opposition and they have the impression that President Aleksandr Ankvab […]

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Moscow Steps In as Arbiter in Abkhaz Conflict

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – May 29, 2014) In the direct aftermath of a political uprising that threatened to destabilize Abkhazia, Russia demonstrated its role as the ultimate arbiter of political life in the small breakaway province of Georgia. Presidential aide Vladislav Surkov met on Wednesday with both sides of a conflict that saw between 1,000 and […]

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St. Petersburg forum attracts foreign investors despite boycott

File Photo of St. Petersburg Economy Forum Outdoor Banners and Building Facade

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – May 29, 2014) In spite of boycotts by CEOs of top global companies by the U.S. and a number of other Western nations, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, held on May 22-24 in Russia’s second city, saw contracts signed between U.S. firms and Russian market players. The St. […]

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Russians Are World’s 2nd Highest Spenders on Alcohol

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 29, 2014) Russian consumers ranked second only to Estonians in terms of the amount of money they spent on alcoholic beverages last year, Euromonitor International said in a report. While Estonian consumers spent 6.5 percent of their cash on beer, wine or spirits in 2013, Russians spent 5.8 percent, or $61.5 million, on alcohol. […]

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RIA Novosti: Public Approval for Putin, Medvedev Continues to Grow – Survey

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – The popularity of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev among Russians continues to grow, according to data released Thursday by the independent pollster Levada-Center. “Vladimir Putin’s public approval rating continues to grow, reaching its peak in the last four years,” an appendix to the survey reads. Eighty-three percent of respondents said […]

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Fewer Russians Fear Growing Old, Poll Shows

File Photo of Two Elders Walking Outdoors

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 29, 2014) The number of Russians who regard old age positively has grown over the past 10 years, a poll released Wednesday showed. The poll, conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, showed 45 percent of respondents said they believed there were distinct advantages to old age, compared to 20 percent a decade ago. A […]

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Gazprom’s Miller says Ukraine will owe $5.2 billion by June 7

Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Tim Ash, Standard Bank – May 29, 2014) I guess that is the $2.5bn for the period to the end of March, another $1bn for April/May, and then $1.7bn in pre-payment for June, as previously demanded by Moscow. EU officials have suggested though that $4bn is owed to date, and under a provisional deal […]

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Interfax: Yanukovych on new authorities in Kyiv: bloody fireworks bad start for presidency

Viktor Yanukovych file photo

ROSTOV-ON-DON. May 29 (Interfax) – Viktor Yanukovych has said that he believed the continuation of the violent operation in southeast Ukraine after the presidential election was a bad omen. “This is a very bad sign – to start a presidential path from such a bloody, deadly firework show which causes the ire and curses from mothers who see their children, […]

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Interfax: Kremlin reaffirms its “respect” for outcome of Ukraine election

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Interfax – May 28, 2014) A senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated the Kremlin’s position that it “respects” the outcome of Ukraine’s presidential election, won by confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko, the privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 28 May. “Our president has already said that, of course, we respect the results of the elections that took […]

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Poroshenko wins with 54.7% of vote – Turchynov

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

KYIV. May 29 (Interfax) – The Ukrainian Central Elections Commission (CEC) has processed 100% of electronic reports from territorial electoral commissions in the presidential election and found out that Petro Poroshenko has won the race with 54.7% of the vote, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said. “After 100% of the electronic reports have been processed, Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko has won […]

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RIA Novosti: Medvedev Warns Strained Relations Could Have Economic Impact

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that new pitfalls in the country’s economic development cannot be ruled out due to strained ties with Ukraine and possibly with other ex-Soviet states. “The next few years will be marked by continued instability and strained environment in some markets. New risks cannot be completely ruled out, […]

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Chechens in Ukraine Capture Public Interest

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 29, 2014) Amid deadly clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian security forces in eastern Ukraine, reports that militants from the Russian republic of Chechnya have joined the insurgents have been buzzing on Russian social media for weeks. As videos and photos purportedly showing Chechen militants in Ukraine emerged on the web, […]

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EU proposed to repay to Gazprom half of Ukraine’s debt for April-May gas supplies as payment deadline nears

Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – May 29, 2014) Gazprom, which earlier sent a prepayment bill to Ukraine, will limit gas supplies on June 3 if Kiev does not pay the advance bill for June, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Wednesday at a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with the government, Prime reported. According to Miller, Ukraine purchased 3.5 billion […]

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Russian upper house approves tougher “foreign agent” NGO law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2014) The Federation Council [Russia’s upper chamber of parliament] has approved a draft law giving the Justice Ministry authority to include a noncommercial organization [the usual Russian phrase for what is referred to elsewhere as NGOs] on the register of foreign agents, even if that same NGO has not applied for inclusion on the register. […]

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NEWSLINK: Ferocity of Ukraine clashes increases risks for Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

[“Ferocity of Ukraine clashes increases risks for Putin” – Reuters – Timothy Heritage – May 27, 2014] Reuters covers Ukraine’s efforts to use force to put down separatist militants in eastern Ukraine, and Russia’s potential reaction: An army assault on pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine will not have taken Vladimir Putin by surprise, but the ferocity of the clashes may have – and […]

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NEWSLINK: Incoming Ukrainian President Poroshenko Requests Time on EU Deal; Officials See No Sign He Is Stalling on Agreement

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

[“Incoming Ukrainian President Poroshenko Requests Time on EU Deal; Officials See No Sign He Is Stalling on Agreement” –  Wall Street Journal – Laurence Norman – May 28, 2014] The Wall Street Journal covers the future of relations between Ukraine and the EU in the aftermath of the Ukrainian presidential election: The winner of Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine has told senior […]

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RUSSIA & UKRAINE: JRL 2014-#119 contents with links :: Wednesday 28 May 2014

St. Basil's file photo

[check back for updates, including more links; links also posted to facebook and twitter] Johnson’s Russia List :: 2014-#119 :: 28 May 2014 E-Mail: davidjohnson@starpower.net A project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George  Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs: www.ieres.org JRL homepage: russialist.org JRL on Facebook: facebook.com/russialist  JRL on Twitter: twitter.com/JohnsonRussiaLi Support JRL: russialist.org/funding.php To subscribe to the JRL email version, email David Johnson at davidjohnson@starpower.net 1. Wall Street Journal: […]

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Despite Ukraine Crisis, Russia Pursues Eurasian Integration Dream

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – May 28, 2014) It’s full steam ahead for the Moscow-backed Eurasian Economic Union — even as its prospective members express serious reservations. At the May 29 summit of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in Astana, the three are expected to sign a treaty to transform their tripartite Customs Union into a Eurasian Economic Union (EES) by January 2015. […]

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Russia-China gas deal spells trouble for the dollar

China Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – INVISIBLE HAND – Liam Halligan in London, Editor-at-Large of BNE – May 28, 2014) The St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), now in its 18th year, was less well attended than usual. The absence of various US and Western Europe CEOs, responding to pressure from their governments following sanctions on Russia, was heavily commented […]

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Kremlin will Be in Trouble if It Tries to Take Away Anything Russians Assume is Rightfully Theirs, Gudkov Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, May 28, 2014) Russians are now far more concerned about defending what they have than in getting something better, Lev Gudkov says. Consequently, if the Kremlin does try to take away something the majority thinks is rightfully theirs, such a step would almost certainly put the survival of the current regime at […]

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Sechin Sues Forbes for ‘Highest-Paid Executive’ Rating

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2014) Rosneft head Igor Sechin has filed a lawsuit against journalists and publishers of the Russian edition of Forbes and Komsomolskaya Pravda for an article he says threatens to damage his business reputation. The lawsuit, filed on May 15, demands that the journalists and publishers behind a November report describing him as the […]

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RIA Novosti: Russia’s Oil Reserves to Produce 600 Million Tons Annually for 30 Years – Minister

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW, May 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s known oil reserves are enough to provide a yearly extraction of 600 million tons of oil for the next 30 years, Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi told lawmakers on Wednesday, reaffirming the country may continue to heavily rely on natural resources to sustain its economy. “The Russian Federation has a substantial potential to […]

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New Law Could Hit Russian Smokers With Massive Cigarette Price Hike

(Moscow Time – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2014) As Russians brace themselves for a public smoking ban to come into effect on Sunday, lawmakers have submitted a new draft law hiking the minimum price on cigarettes in the latest bid to change the country’s attitude to smoking. The new law would see a 41-percent increase in the minimum price for […]

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Ukraine: The Real Energy Crisis Starts in June

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Robert Bensh – May 27, 2014) Kiev is feeling emboldened by the successful election of a new Ukrainian president and a bloody surge against separatists in the east, but in just a few days, Russia says it will twist the gas spigot, and there’s very little Kiev can do to stop that. On June 3, Russia plans to […]

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Russia Bats Off Yatsenyuk’s Accusation of Gas Stealing

Arseniy Yatsenyuk file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Panin – May 28, 2014) Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Tuesday that Russia should return the $1 billion worth of gas that he said it stole while annexing Crimea, and accused Moscow of not being trustworthy when it comes to negotiating. “We would like to hear an explanation from Russia, including the […]

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What does it take to save Ukraine?

Maidan Square file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Mikhail Molchanov – May 27, 2014) Mikhail A. Molchanov was born and raised in Ukraine, where he worked as Head of the Department of Public Administration at the National Academy of Public Administration under the President of Ukraine. He currently works as Professor of Political Science at St. Thomas University, Canada. He is the author of Political Culture […]

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Ukraine’s Autocratic New President

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – May 27, 2014) The first actions and pronouncements of the new Ukrainian president, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, suggest that he intends to be a strong-arm leader in the traditional post-Soviet mold. A worthy adversary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, perhaps, but not quite what the pro-European protesters wanted when they overthrew another authoritarian leader, […]

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Will Election Unite Ukraine? Dozens Killed in Airport Battle as President-Elect Vows Russia Talks

Ukraine Map and Flag

(democracynow.org – May 27, 2014) At least 30 pro-Russian rebels have reportedly died in fierce fighting at the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The Ukrainian government bombarded the airport with air strikes, then paratroopers, after rebels seized it on Monday. The fighting began just hours after the pro-European billionaire candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko won Ukraine’s first presidential […]

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Ukraine Update: Moscow will be looking for a sweet deal from Poroshenko

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Tim Ash, Standard Bank – May 28, 2014) Ukraine’s Central Electoral Commission has confirmed that Petro Poroshenko has in effect won the presidential election, with over 54% of votes, after 95% of votes have been tallied. The president elect has promised to engage in talks to bring peace to Ukraine Ð but not with […]

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