February 8 – February 16
The Caucasus Headlines
OSCE Chairwoman Makes Official Visit to Georgia
OSCE Chairwoman Ann Linde visited Georgia on February 16. In her official visit, Linde reaffirmed the OSCE’s ‘strong support’ for Georgia in conflict resolution. Linde met with Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and is scheduled to meet with the Georgian Prime Minister, President, Parliament Speaker, and State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality. Linde stated that the peaceful resolution of the Russian-Georgian conflicts is one of the priorities of her OSCE chairmanship.
Armenia to Receive Parliamentary Delegation from Iran
The head of the Armenia-Iran friendship group Mkhitar Kayrapetyan held a phone meeting with Seyyed Mehdi Farshadan, the head of the Iran-Armenia friendship group. In the call, the representatives discussed the further development and expansion of bilateral relations. Farshadan informed Kayrapetyan that the Islamic Republic of Iran plans to send a delegation to Armenia in the near future.
Azerbaijani President Visits Liberated Territories, Discusses Future of Green Energy
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conducted a visit to the liberated territories of Fizuli, Zangilan, Lachin, and Jabrayil. The infrastructure in these regions was destroyed during the Armenian occupation, and the government has already launched restoration and reconstruction efforts. Renewable energy systems will be constructed in Kalbajar and Lachin for electricity production. These regions have favorable natural conditions for renewable energy.
Sources: Agenda.ge, Armenpress.am, Baku.ws
Eastern Europe Headlines
IMF Requires Ukraine to Make More Reforms Before Attaining a New Loan
IMF representative Goesta Ljungman encouraged Ukrainian officials to strengthen governance of the central bank, implement policies to reduce fiscal deficit, corruption and energy policy to secure the $5 billion loan. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said the government will take into account IMF suggestions. Ukraine is awaiting a $2.2 billion loan from the IMF in 2021.
Belarusian Journalists Raided by Police
Belarusian police raided 22 homes and offices of prominent journalists, human rights activists and trade union members on Feb 16. Official claim that raids were a part of an investigation into anti-government protests. Some victims of the raids include the chief of Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) Andrei Bastunets and human rights organization Viasna.
Navalny Accused Russian Authorities of Fabricating a Case Against Him
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused Russian authorities of falsifying a case against him. The prosecutor asked for a $13,000 fine for allegedly libeling an elderly World War II veteran. The court will announce its verdict on Feb. 20. Navalny faces another trial for alleged embezzlement, which is punishable for upto 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, protests supporting Navalny continued throughout the week.
Sources: Reuters, DW, The Washington Post
Abkhaz Economy Minister Proposes Restoration of Sukhumi Airport
On February 15, the economy minister of the government in control of Georgia’s Abkhazia met with Alexander Neradko, the Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport, in Moscow. The two parties discussed the planned reconstruction of the Sukhumi airport, which has been closed since the early 1990s. A working group has already been established.
South Ossetian President Travels to Moscow for Working Visit
Beginning on February 16, the President of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov will conduct a three-day working visit to Moscow. Bibilov will attend several meetings with Russian counterparts to discuss socio-economic cooperation between the occupied territory and the Russian Federation. Traveling with the President is South Ossetia’s Minister of Finance, Aza Khabalov.
Abkhazia Schedules Elections for April 11
Aslan Bzhania, the leader of the regime in control of Abkhazia, has set local elections for April 11, 2021. Local elections have been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 30,000 ethnic Georgians of the Gali district are ineligible for participation in local, parliamentary, and presidential elections as a result of policies stripping them of Abkhaz citizenship in 2014 and 2017.
Sources: civil.ge, State News Agency “RES”
EU Refuses Removal of Sanctions Until Russia Follows the Minsk Agreements
High Representative of the European Union of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said in a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that there will be no normalization of EU-Russia relations until Ukrainian territorial integrity is restored. Borell added that the EU is expecting the fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements and condemns human rights violations on the Crimean peninsula.
U.S. and EU Accuse Russia of Blocking Ukraine Solutions
U.S. diplomat Rodney Hunter publicly condemned Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine and Crimea at the UN Security Council video conference marking the sixth anniversary of the Minsk II agreements. Germany, France, and other European members of the Security Council released a joint declaration against the instability in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Source: UNIAN, Aljazeera
Russian media claims that a car of a separatist police chief, Sergei Popov in Donetsk was denoted in the town of Horlivka on Feb. 15. There are no further media reports on Popov’s condition, potential suspects, or official Ukrainian response. Several Donetsk militia commanders were previously attacked by bomb explosions from 2016 to 2018.Three Ukrainian Soldiers Killed by an Explosive in Donetsk
Ukrainian army reported that three soldiers have been killed by an explosive in Novoluhanske, Donetsk Oblast on Feb. 14. According to the army reports, an unknown device exploded when three men headed to take their position. On Feb. 11 two other government soldiers were killed in combat in the Donetsk region, violating the summer ceasefire agreements.
Russian Peacekeepers Facilitate Cargo Deliveries to Kalbajar Russian peacekeepers facilitated the delivery of 185 tons of cargo to the Kalbajar region. The delivery included generators, electrical equipment, and construction materials. The equipment delivered is intended to be used to help restore energy infrastructure, water supply systems, social facilities, and residential buildings. The deliveries were compliant with the terms of the trilateral peace agreement signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia on November 10. Construction of New Settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh for Displaced Armenians
The construction of a residential settlement between the villages of Astghashen and Patara has begun. The settlement is located in the Askeran region, which is internationally recognized as the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but still held by ethnic Armenians after the 2020 war. The housing projects will be for ethnic Armenians displaced by the war from the Jraghatsner, Moshkhmhat, Madatashen, and Sghnakh villages, which border the Azerbaijani city of Khojaly. Construction of the settlement is expected to be completed by December 2022.
Sources: Oxu.az, Armenpress.am
Transnistria Is Second Most COVID-19 Affected Region, UN Reports
United Nations Moldova reported that Transnistria has the second highest infection rate of 12 percent. Chisinau remains the most affected area with 42 percent of all confirmed cases. This week, Moldova had 9,108 active cases, with an average of 802 cases per day. Since the start of the pandemic, Moldova reported 170,186 cases. Moldova’s President Implores EU to Allocate Vaccines to Moldova
President of Moldova Maia Sandu said in an interview that Moldova is struggling to obtain COVID-19 vaccines because companies are interested in supplying “bigger countries” instead of smaller ones like Moldova. Sandu declined to rule out the Russian Sputnik V vaccine but is anticipating help from the EU.
Sources: UN Moldova, France 24