Kazakhstan’s constitutional council has rejected a referendum to extend its leader’s rule until 2020. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been head of Central Asia’s largest economy for over 20 years. The 70-year-old leader has a month to appeal the decision. However, in his state of the union address last week, he said that should the vote be rejected, he would stand for election in 2012.
Two blasts hit the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiyivka on Jan. 20 and authorities were bracing for possible further attacks after unidentified attackers left a note at one of the explosion sites demanding millions of euros from the government. Ukraine’s security service is not ruling out terrorism. No one was hurt in the blasts.
In the ongoing saga of Russian energy diplomacy — intimately tied to Moscow’s attempts to consolidate its influence in its “near abroad” — the Dec. 9 oil-trade agreement with Belarus goes down as an important marker of Russia’s reinvigorated authority in its immediate neighborhood. With President Viktor Yanukovych now exercising increasingly authoritarian control in Ukraine, and Belarus no longer flirting with the West, Moscow can safely assume that the two-decade era of Western institutions and influence expanding eastward has been put on hold indefinitely. This turning point is concurrent with a thawing of relations between Russia and many Western countries, […]