Eastern Europe Top 10 July 5th

Moldovan and North Korean representatives in Chisinau

Each week we bring you the ten most important pieces of news from Eastern Europe.

Compiled by: Hristo Voynov and Kristijan Fidanovski


  1. US Supreme Court allows for limited travel ban, vindicates Visegrad group

With the recent US decision to allow for certain parts of US President Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ to take into effect, Europe’s internal divisions are more visible. Western Europe is more supportive of refugees then the East, which has been accused of not living up to its responsibilities within the Union. Hungary PM Orban is probably very happy now that policies that he wants in Hungary are gaining weight in the US, especially since the US Supreme Court voted in favor of a mild interpretation of the ban. However, the official line is that there is still plenty of tension between the US and Hungary, mostly due to criticisms of Hungary for its recent NGO laws.


  1. Bosnian hospital left scissors in a man’s stomach

A hospital in Mostar, Bosnia has been ordered by the court to pay around 10,000 euros to a 41-year-old man who spent nine years of his life with a pair of scissors in his stomach. The man had an ulcer surgery at the hospital in 2003, after which the doctors simply forgot to take the scissors out of his body.


  1. Ransomware from Ukraine spreads, political or criminal?

Another major ransomware spread internationally, which spreading via tax software based in Ukraine. Russia has been accused of being behind the virus, which hit countries “associated with Ukraine” according the Poland’s defense minister. However, this does not explain the Russian organizations that were hit with the virus, such as the government owned Rosneft oil company. The mixing of hackers, criminals, and intelligence agencies have complicated cyber security, as hackers and criminals can receive resources and support from intelligence agencies in exchange for them targeting political targets. The best example of this would be the WannaCry virus, which was linked to North Korea and could have been an attempt to raise funds by bypassing sanctions against it.


  1. Serbia is set to hold its most successful Exit festival ever

Starting today, Novi Sad will serve as the center of European summer partying for the next four days with its traditional Exit Festival. Some of the performers include global music stars such as The Killers, Jason Derulo and Lost Frequencies.


  1. Murder trial for Nemtsov unlikely to bring justice

Nemtsov’s murder trial has concluded, with the 5 defendants all being found guilty of murder. The five agreed to do it for 15 million rubles, which shows the issues with seeking justice in this case. While the minor thugs that were hired to do the deed were punished, the ones who funded the assassination will probably avoid any punishment.


  1. Conflicting statements by the new Serbian government on future foreign policy

Last week, Serbia’s new prime minister Ana Brnabic made the headlines with her statement that Serbia would choose the EU over Russia if forced to choose. Yesterday, however, the old-new foreign minister Ivica Dacic pledged equally close relations with both the EU and Russia, and added that Russia is crucial in “guaranteeing Serbia’s territorial integrity”.


  1. Moldovan separatists political infighting at an opportune time

Transnistria’s “Supreme Soviet” parliament strips former leader Shevchuk of the breakaway region for frauds allegations. He has fled to Moldova proper to avoid jail time or supposed attempts on his life. This is at a time when discussion regarding reintegration in Moldova has gone up, from Moldovan President Dodon’s signals for a possible political solution and attempts to swap Russian peacekeeping troops with an international mix. It is unlikely that these new efforts will bring change, considering how long the status quo has been able to ignore similar ideas.


  1. Kosovo is unlikely to form a stable government after recent elections

The failure of the ruling party to achieve a landslide victory left Kosovo in huge political uncertainty, with the second and third best parties refusing to form a coalition with ex-ICTY suspect Ramush Haradinai as prime minister. This leaves three options: an unstable coalition between Haradinai and the Serb List (least likely), a broad coalition of all parties, and new elections (at this point most likely).


  1. Belarus celebrates independence day, not without its problems

The July 3rd celebrations included a minor protest against the government, but its numbers were very small compared to other recent protests. The protests went ahead without any incidents nor arrests. However, multiple activists were preemptively arrested for supposedly planning mass disturbances though only a small group were charged. They were arrested from groups with far-right ideologies, the White Legion and Young Front. The White Legion allegedly fought in Ukraine in support of the government.


  1. Moldova deepens cooperation with North Korea

The worst fears of those were alarmed by the election of pro-Russian president Igor Dodon last year in Moldova seem to be coming true. Beside his constant anti-Western rhetoric, Dodon has held several high-level meetings with North Korean government representatives. The last such meeting was held in Chisinau last week and was followed by hints from the president of deeper economic cooperation.


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