First, Russia may be witnessing a return of increased terrorist incidents. The latest having occurred today in North Ossetia.
An explosion hit a minibus unloading passengers in the capital of Russia’s North Ossetia province Thursday, and officials said 11 people were killed in what they called a terrorist attack…Passengers were getting off the bus near the entrance to the central market in Vladikavkaz when the blast went off, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on its Web site.
It’s too early to tell for certain whether this is a new upward trend. The only other incident to my knowledge was in early October when the Russian authorities blamed Georgian forces for exploding a bomb near Russian military personel. Regardless, for North Ossetians who suffered through the tragedy of Beslan, any terrorist attack must be terrifying.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this in the near future, but so is Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committe according to which at least 35 terrorist attacks in Russia have been prevented since the start of this year.
And half-way around down the world, MV Faina is still held hostage by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Although allegedly, some progress is being made:
Talks between the owner of the Faina vessel and the pirates are effectively going on, and there are reasons to believe that they will be completed within a few days, says a press release of the ship owner, published by the Morskoy Bulletin-Sovfracht journal on Thursday…
The Faina vessel was captured by Somalian pirates on September 25. It has on board 33 T-72 tanks and other armaments, which are intended, according to various versions, for Kenya or South Sudan. The crew is made up of 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and a Latvian national. Another Russian – skipper Vladimir Kolobkov – died of a heart attack soon after the capture of the Faina by the pirates.
Barack Obama, president-elect
[UPDATE]: Washington Post editorial; see also voter turnout as well as Truth and Myths about the 2008 Election part I (deals with the reasons for Obama’s victory) & part II (deals with the Bradley Effect Non-Effect) via The Monkey Cage. Also, Patriot’s Quill writes about the 10 reasons why Republicans deserved to lose (h/t Treacherous Truths).
Image credit: Barack Obama (flickr); license: cc-by-nc-sa
Understanding the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is no easy task. Knowing the history and culture is just a prerequisite to begin to discern the tensions observed today between governments in Moscow and Kyiv. It helps being a newsjunkie and being able to speak aside from English the other two languages involved – Russian and Ukrainian. In that case, Taras Kuzio is uniquely placed.
Writing in a recent issue of the Eurasia Daily Monitor (EDM), published by The Jamestown Foundation, Kuzio – in an article titled Russian-Ukrainian Relations Reveal Deeper Problems – outlines 11 areas that bedevil Ukrainian-Russian relations which show “a close interconnection between domestic and international affairs.”
Below five of the reasons mentioned by Kuzio are examined, with a full list available on EDM’s site:
Energy. Currently an intermediary buys natural gas from Russia and resells it to Ukraine. Tymoshenko has pushed for direct trade with Russia, but the latest Yushchenko-Putin agreement esssentially preserved the middle-man status quo with cosmetic changes. Finally, it’s not so much the increased prices, but how these were implemented that aggravated the relationship.
Ukraine has absorbed Russian gas price increases from $50 to $179.50 per 1,000 cubic meters over the last four years with a threat to double this price in 2009…The energy sector continues to be very corrupt, and this factor reduces the ability of Ukraine’s elites to act in unison toward Moscow….
Sheltering accused criminals. Ukrainians wanted by law-enforcement authorities are hiding in Russia. An analogous situation exists between the U.K. and Russia regarding the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi sought by the British police on suspicion of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Russia’s refusal to cooperate with Scotland Yard at the time brought the relations between Moscow and London to a new low.
High-level officials accused of abuse of office (Igor Bakaj, Ruslan Bodelan) or involvement in Yushchenko’s poisoning (Volodymyr Satsiuk) continue to remain in exile in Russia. Russia has a long record of harboring fugitives sought by countries such as Georgia.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s third post-Soviet president after Yeltsin and Putin, will soon appoint a new presidential aide to fight corruption. Following his inauguration speech promise to crackdown against corruption, President Medvedev is scheduled to sign a decree creating the new post in late June reports RIA Novosti.
Kremlin sources said Medvedev was likely to appoint 52-year-old Major General of the Judiciary Igor Tsokolov, head of the organized economic crime department at the Interior Ministry’s investigative committee…Technically speaking, the new presidential aide will focus on corruption plaguing the massive Russian administrative machine. However, analysts said he would primarily facilitate a personnel reshuffle in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Interior Ministry and the Federal Drugs Control Service (FSKN).
What remains to be seen is to what extent Tsokolov’s position will be about re-centering the power balance in Russia around Kremlin (rather than the White House – the new home to now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin) vs. actually combating corruption. Either way, Russia’s corrupt chinovniki better watch out. In the end, it will not matter whether they were fired for being corrupt or because of the turf fight between the Kremlin and the White House.
Ask yourself a question – would you buy a used car from this Commission?
The quote says it all. Check out this amazing piece of oratory and rebuke. When was the last time you heard this in your own national legislative body? Two points are clear from this:
- Eastern European corruption is bad, but the EU has significant corruption problems of its own, albeit of a different type
- No one watches YouTube for videos about European corruption (roughly 1730 “views” as of this posting)
The start-up costs, bureaucracy and corruption are worries faced by entrepreneurs everywhere. In European geography, labor costs tend to go down the further east one travels. This has made one country in particular a very attractive business option east of Vienna. As David Dastych notes in a recent column for Nachrichten Heute:
Poland has been ranked the most attractive destination for new foreign investment in Europe. Moreover, Poland was placed in the 2nd position in Europe in the job-creation ranking and in the 7th place in the foreign direct investment ranking.
But the main focus for Dastych is a problem felt by many countries in the region – corruption. In his article Canadian and U.S. Investors Mistreated in Poland, Dastych explores in-depth the case of a joint American-Canadian investment the EuroPort’s Grain Terminal Project, an unfinished grain terminal in the Baltic port of Gdansk.