The European Parliament has awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Russian human rights group, Memorial. The group, which lost one of its activists in an abduction-murder earlier this year, was awarded the prize in the name of all Russian rights defenders. Russia has seen a wave of kidnap-murders of prominent journalists, activists and lawyers over the last decade. Despite fierce criticism from human rights activists and Western politicians, as well as pressure on Russian authorities to do more to identify and prosecute the crimes, perpetrators continue to act with near impunity. In awarding this year’s […]
When Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin invited Western energy companies to help develop natural gas fields in Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula in late September, many Western observers viewed it as an admission of defeat. After years of increasing state involvement in the upstream of the Russian hydrocarbon sector, a collapse in the price of oil had pushed Moscow to reconsider its adversarial relations with private investors — foreign and domestic alike. While there is some truth to this interpretation, it ignores a more important narrative that emerged from the meeting at the Siberian frontier town of Salekhard about Russia’s shifting attention […]
On Oct. 19, at a multilateral meeting in Vienna focused on nuclear transparency, U.S. and Iranian representatives will meet for the second time in a month in the hopes of working out the modality by which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will inspect Iran’s newly revealed enrichment facility known as Fardo, near the holy city of Qom. This particular issue is relatively straightforward, and the negotiations will likely result in the Fardo facility being placed under the IAEA’s regular regime of inspections, already firmly in place with respect to Iran’s other nuclear facilities. But it is nonetheless tied in […]
The story of Hermitage Capital, a Britain-based investment fund that was once one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, and what it encountered at the hands of corrupt Russian officials, “highlightsthe hazards of practicing law in Russia’s corruption-ridden courtsdespite nearly two decades of reforms supported by hundreds of millionsin U.S. and European aid,” Philip Pan wrote in an Aug. 13 piece in the Washington Post. It also highlights the dangers of doing business in Russia for Western firms. Hermitage was apparently the victim of a brazen attempt by corrupt Russian officials to steal its assets, in an all-too-common practice […]
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic tells Russia Today thatBelgrade will not sacrifice its stance on Kosovo’sindependence in exchange for a speedy accession to the European Union.Jeremic spoke to the Russian state-sponsored television station as heprepared to visit Moscow, and ahead of a planned visit to Belgrade byRussian President Dmitry Medvedev.
At their Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva, representatives from Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) appeared to make considerable progress. The Iranian government representative agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect its recently revealed second, secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qum. Iran also expressed interest “in principle” in sending its stockpiles of low enriched uranium to Russia and France for further enrichment and conversion into fuel rods for an experimental reactor used for medical purposes. Russia’s role in helping secure these developments remains unclear. Russian leaders […]
On the heels of signing a major arms agreement with Russia on Sept. 10, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced his country’s recognition of Georgian breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, becoming only the third country after Nicaragua and Russia to do so. A little over a year since Russia unilaterally recognized the two statelets following its brief war with Georgian forces, the international community — including Russia’s close allies Belarus and Kazakhstan — has continued to keep its distance. Predictably, the response to Chavez’s announcement from Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, was dismissive. A statement released by the Ministry […]