Recently in Near Abroads Category

Transdniestrians Vote September 16 In Referendum On Joining Russia

"The breakaway republic of Transdniestria in Moldova will on Sunday [September17, 2006] vote in a referendum on joining Russia, in a potentially damaging blow to EU diplomacy in the post-Soviet region," reports the EU Observer in a September 15, 2006 post headlined "Referendum to test EU diplomacy in Moldova."

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What Did The Kremlin Learn From The Beslan Tragedy?

Masha Lipman, editor of the Russian and English language Pro et Contra journal, published by the Carnegie Moscow Center," says in her September 4, 2006,  Washington Post column on the September 3, 2004, Beslan school massacre allegedly carried out by Chechen fighters in North Ossetia:

If there is one lesson the Kremlin has learned -- or had confirmed for itself -- since Beslan, it is that by maintaining tight control over political life and major media coverage, it can efficiently minimize the political fallout from just about any event, even a tragedy as huge as Beslan.

Ms. Lipman said, "By way of contrast, consider that in the United States, alleged mismanagement of the Hurricane Katrina disaster continues to be a hot public and political issue a year later. In Russia, little is heard of Beslan."

To read more, please see "After Beslan, the Media in Shackles. Also see "Beslan still a raw nerve for Russia" and "Why 333 were killed may never be known."

"Authorities Ban Expert’s Report on Beslan Crisis — HR Activist" also sheds  light on the controversy surrounding Beslan

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What Sparked Tensions in Kondopoga?

"Tensions between ethnic Russians and ethnic Caucasians are “extremely critical” in the northwestern Russian city of Kondopoga after a deadly barfight sparked violent protests by hundreds of Russians, a local Muslim religious leader has said," reported September 4, 2006.

To read more, please see "Ethnic Tensions Extremely High in North Russia — Muslim Leader." Also see RIA Novosti's "Authorities scramble to curb ethnic violence in North Russia.

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Charles Grant: "At Last, Some Hope For Ukraine'

 Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, asserts in an August 4, 2006 article in Guardian Unlimited's widely-read Comment is Free blog that "The formation of a new government - four months after parliamentary elections - is good news for Ukraine."
Grant, who "writes principally on EU foreign and defence policy, transatlantic relations and Russia," according to The Guardian, added: 
The coalition is broad-based: the party of President Victor Yushchenko, Our Ukraine, has strong roots in the rural west of the country; the Regions party, led by the new prime minister, Victor Yanukovich, dominates the east; and the Socialist party, the third member of the coalition, is popular among farmers in the centre.

Western Ukraine is nationalist, speaks Ukrainian and wants closer ties to the EU. In the east of the country there is less national feeling, Russian is the main language and most people want good relations with Russia. The coalition is well-designed to keep these two disparate halves together.

"But is a comeback by Yanukovich really such a good thing?" Grants asks rhetorically. "After all, he was prime minister during the corrupt regime of President Leonid Kuchma, and his victory in the fraudulent presidential election of November 2004 provoked the orange revolution. He has a dodgy past and a long-standing personal feud with Yushchenko. Evidently, the new coalition is far from certain to make a success of running this chaotic country."

To read Grant's thought-provoking analysis, please see "At last, some hope for Ukraine."
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Yanukovych and Yushchenko Adjust to Ukraine's Political Climate

Veronica Khokhlova, who gained prominence in some Western circles as a result of her excellent coverage of  Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" in late 2004 and early 2005," makes interesting points about Ukrainian politicians ability to readjust themselves to conform to the political climate.
Such was the case of Victor Yanukovych, who was nominated August 3, 2006 by Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko to be Ukraine's next prime minister.
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Yushchenko and Yanukovych: Can They Work Together?

Tatyana Stanovaya, writing for  RIA Novosti, reported August 3, 2006 that, "After hours of consultations, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko made a decision last night to submit the candidacy of Viktor Yanukovych for the post of prime minister."

"In effect," she wrote, "two men have decided the destiny of Ukraine: the president and the leader of the Party of Regions, or the winner and the loser of the Orange Revolution. To all intents and purposes, the crisis in Ukraine has been resolved. But it is equally obvious that the Ukrainian government is in for another crisis, which will last for at least a month."

To read why, see "Ukraine: eastern revenge."

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