Eurasia

  • Ellinas in Cyprus Weekly: Follow the Flame


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  • Ukraine’s Got Less Than a Month to Clean Up Highest Court

    By the end of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency in February 2014, virtually all vestiges of judicial independence had been eroded in Ukraine, together with any public confidence in the justice system. Three years later, only a small number of the most corrupt judges have lost their posts. It is rightly difficult to dismiss judges, but it should be at least as difficult to appoint compromised judges. That was the theory behind promising new procedures for ensuring transparency and open competition for vacant Supreme Court judge posts. In practice, this has proven much less possible, and civic groups have mobilized to prevent yet another rejiggering of a reform-resistant status quo.

    In 2016, the Verkhovna Rada adopted legislation that strengthened the role of the Supreme Court; it laid out steps to ensure a renewal process of its judges through competition. Applications were invited for the first 120 Supreme Court vacancies in November 2016, and full profiles of all candidates should have been posted almost immediately on the official website of the High Qualification Commission of Judges, but they weren’t. The Commission has claimed that it lacks the resources to do so; however, it has been equally reluctant to provide information in response to formal queries.

    The Commission’s resistance is particularly disturbing in light of the detailed information about the competition and candidates gathered by the civic initiative Chesno.

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  • Ukraine’s Rails, Roads, and Ports Throttle Economic Recovery

    Ukraine’s favorable location gives the country immense potential as a regional transit hub. The country’s infrastructure, however, is in such a bad shape that it is not only unable to service international traffic, but has difficulties meeting the economy’s everyday needs.

    Following two years of GDP decline, Ukraine finally demonstrated signs of economic recovery in 2016. Whether the recovery continues to gather momentum depends on continued progress in agriculture and metallurgy, which constitute the backbone of Ukraine’s economy. Both rely heavily on efficient infrastructure to bring commodities like grain, iron ore, and steel to consumers inside the country and to ports for export. The country’s growing infrastructure bottlenecks became more evident last year, as a bumper crop of grain coupled with a decline in world prices meant increased transportation needs to secure agriculture revenue. Because of a constant shortage of railroad cars and limitations on heavyweight trucking over Ukraine’s roads, farmers faced losses struggling to move crops to ports for exports from overloaded silos. Ukraine’s railways, roads, and ports all require serious investment and reforms.

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  • From Fake News to Fake Opinion

    A few weeks ago, a colleague asked why I was a part of an organization called the Center for Global Strategic Monitoring (also known as the CGS Monitor). Despite working in foreign policy for seventeen years, I had never heard of this organization. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my photograph and biography listed on the CGS Monitor website as one of their “experts.”

    I immediately began searching the website for contact information to request that my name be removed. However, it became clear that there was something fishy about this website. Not only was no mailing address given; the only email contact to be found was a ubiquitous “info@” address. My email requesting that my name be removed has never been answered and the website continues to list me as one of their experts.

    As a political consultant in Kyiv and a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, I follow politics in Eastern Europe closely. I also maintain a blog on Ukrainian politics and provide political risk analysis for personal clients. Over the last three years, I have witnessed the massive Russian propaganda campaign against Ukraine, and have seen firsthand the effects of the war in eastern Ukraine. Like everyone else, I have observed the recent “fake news” phenomenon. But the CGS Monitor website takes fake news and introduces a new element: “fake opinion.”

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  • #ACExplainer: Russia's Interference in the United States Elections


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  • Central Asia Summit Establishes Core Initiatives to Enhance Regional Cooperation

    It was little noticed, but something of real significance took place in Washington during the first week of August. US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the Foreign Ministers of five Central Asian nations that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. With the US largely out of the war in Afghanistan, Central Asia receives little attention from the American media or public. But, this region sits at the very center of the Eurasian land mass, bordered by Russia, China, and Iran and near India and Pakistan. Stability in Central Asia is critical for stability throughout Eurasia.

    Kerry’s meeting on August 3 in Washington with Foreign Ministers Abdyldayev representing Kyrgzstan, Aslov of Tajikistan, Idrissov of Kazakhstan, Komilov of Uzbekistan, and Meredov of Turkmenistan is the second convening of this group. The first occurred in the fall of 2015 in the fabled city of Samarkand during Kerry’s first trip to Central Asia. The group—known as the C5+1—is the brainchild of Necia Desai Biswal, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.  The group is a vehicle that promotes US cooperation with the five Central Asian states and cooperation among the states themselves.

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  • Grigas' 'Frozen Conflicts' Featured by Diplomatic Courier


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  • Foul Play: The Human Cost of World Sports

    Wednesday July 13, 2016, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center hosted a panel of human rights experts to discuss the human rights violation which often accompany international mega sports events. The panelist included: Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, Sunjeev Bery, advocacy director, Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, David Kramer, senior director for human rights and democracy at the The McCain Institute for International Leadership, and Pedro Abramovay, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean and Director of the Latin America Program at Open Society Foundations. The event was moderated by Robert Herman, vice president of Emergency Assistance Programs and Multilateral Advocacy at Freedom House.

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  • Ukraine’s Humanitarian Crisis

    “People have forgotten that there’s a real humanitarian situation and a real need in a European country,” said Jock Mendoza-Wilson, director of international and investor relations at System Capital Management, during a recent Atlantic Council panel examining the crisis in Ukraine.

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  • The National Features Polyakova and Shekhovtsov: What's Left of Europe If the Far Right Has It's Way?


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