Eastern Europe / News

Reforms stall as Zelenskiy actively undermines NBU independence

Ben Aris in Berlin July 9, 2020

Confidence in the Z-Dream of rapid, deep and far-reaching reforms by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that will transform Ukraine almost totally evaporated this week.

Famous ex-defence reporter arrested, accused of treason

bne IntelliNews July 8, 2020

Ivan Safronov's arrest appears to be part of an escalating crackdown on Russian journalists by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Belarus presidential election to have no outside observers, opposition may united by a single candidate

bne IntelliNews July 7, 2020

There will be no independent observers for the August 9 Belarusian presidential elections, giving the authorities a free hand to fix the result. The opposition leaders plan to rally around one name if any of them qualify for the race

US intelligence memo admits there is “no evidence” of Russian payment of bounties to Afghans for killing US soldiers

Ben Aris in Berlin July 7, 2020

The New York Times reported on June 3 that a CIA memo admits that intelligence agencies have “no evidence” that payments made by the Russian foreign military intelligence GRU to Afghan fighters were bounties for killing US soldiers.

NBU lionises Smolii, clarifies cancellation of Eurobond decision

Ben Aris in Berlin July 4, 2020

The National Bank of Ukraine was in damage control mode on July 3 as it lionised its departing governor, Yakiv Smolii, and released more details of why a planned issue of a 12-year $1.75bn Eurobond was immediately cancelled on the news.

No protests, but police continue to randomly arrest pedestrians on Belarus Independence Day

Ben Aris in Berlin July 4, 2020

Belarus celebrated its Independence Day on July 3 and while there were no large-scale protests, police continued to snatch pedestrians from the street in random arrests as tensions remain high.

Governor Smolii’s departure from the NBU creates the risk of devaluation of the hyrvnia or default on its debt this year

Ben Aris in Berlin July 3, 2020

Ukraine’s Rada rapidly accepted the resignation of Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Yakiv Smolii on July 3, completing the process of his departure from the central bank. But his departure creates danger of devaluation or default

Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerges in Russia's referendum on constitutional changes

Ben Aris in Berlin July 3, 2020

Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerged in a mathematician Facebook post of a statistical study of the voting results in the referendum on constitutional changes that would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036.

Nato nerves on edge as France pulls out of sea operation in major row with Turkey over Libya

bne IntelIiNews July 2, 2020

Paris claims French warship targeted with Turkish weapons systems after it moved to check on suspected breach of arms embargo by cargo ship.

Ukraine cancels dollar bond sale after NBU governor resigns

bne IntelliNews July 2, 2020

Ukraine cancelled a planned offering of dollar-denominated Eurobonds after Yakiv Smolii stepped down as NBU governor citing a “systematic” campaign against the central bank.

Ukraine’s NBU governor Smolii quits under pressure from oligarchs

Ben Aris in Berlin July 2, 2020

Yakiv Smolii, the governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), has quit his job, citing pressure from a “systematic” campaign against him and the central bank by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

Russian vote through changes to constitution in referendum, Putin cleared to rule until 2036

bne IntelliNews July 2, 2020

With 99.9% of the vote counted, 77.93% of Russians voted for changes to Russia’s constitution and 21.26% against in a referendum on July 1. The turnout was 65%.

Russian petrochemical giant Sibur raises $500m in 5-year eurobonds with a record-low 2.95% coupon

Ben Aris in Berlin July 1, 2020

Russian petrochemical giant Sibur Holding has issued a $500m 5-year eurobond on the Irish Stock Exchange with the lowest coupon yield ever for a Russian corporate of 2.95%, on June 30.

Valery Tsepkalo out of the Belarusian presidential race, six candidates left in

bne IntelliNews July 1, 2020

Valery Tsepkalo, one of the three leading opposition candidates that want to run against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential elections, has been excluded from the race. The other two are in jail.

Macron accuses Erdogan of massively importing jihadists into Libya

bne IntelIiNews June 30, 2020

Calls it a “criminal” intervention by “a country which claims to be a Nato member”.

Belarus’ election commissions rejecting opposition candidates' signatures, investigations launched into Tsepkalo

Ben Aris in Berlin June 30, 2020

It has been dubbed “the signature revolution” but the hundreds of thousands of signatures Belarus’ opposition figures have gathered that are part of the application process to stand in the presidential elections have been rejected

Saakashvili says Russia "way ahead" of Ukraine in making reforms

bne IntelliNews June 29, 2020

In remarkably candid comments, former Georgian president and recently appointed head of Ukraine’s Reform Committee Mikheil Saakashvili said that Russia was “way ahead” of Ukraine in many key reforms.

International financial institutions scale back their support for Zelenskiy’s government over reform backsliding fears

bne IntelliNews June 28, 2020

Backsliding on reforms and rising political instability within Zelenskiy's administration have led Ukraine’s international donors to pare back their financial support until the government better demonstrates its commitment to the reform agenda.

Demonstrations throughout Europe to support Belarusian protests, Amnesty International slams Lukashenko’s “purge”

bne IntelliNews June 28, 2020

Demonstrations were held outside Belarusian embassies across Europe over the weekend in a show of solidarity for protests against the jailing of opposition leaders in Minsk, characterised as a “full-scale purge” by Amnesty International.

Belarusian government on the hunt for foreign investors to modernise the Minsk Tractor Factory

bne IntelliNews June 26, 2020

The Belarusian government is on the hunt for foreign investors to modernise the Minsk Tractor Factory (MTZ), one of the biggest in the world.