Lukashenko says he may quit as president
Belarus hits EU with tit-for-tat sanctions
Belarusian police introduce colour-coded torture system for detained protesters
Kremlin publicly condemns Belarusian police brutality in hint of growing frustration with Lukashenko
Russian services PMI rises to 48.2, but remains underwater as recovery continues to slow
Russia to start mass vaccinations on December 7
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev calls on Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Iran to assist in creating Nakhchivan land corridor
FPRI BMB Russia: Sberbank releases a three-year transformation strategy to e-commerce concern
Ukraine’s banking sector continues recovery, but profits still lagging last year
Ukraine’s real wages up over 10% in October but have been stagnant in dollar terms for almost a year
FPRI BMB Ukraine: Public has confused opinions on resolving the Donbas conflict
Western Balkans plus Ukraine subsidised coal with over €900mn in 2018-2019
Estonian parcel robot firm Cleveron eyes €30mn state loan
Estonia’s chief auditor says €1bn in state COVID-19 loans issued haphazardly
Economic sentiment in CEE falls in November as recovery momentum splutters
Estonian animation studio Imepilt to hold IPO
Brighter days ahead: The economic bounce back in 2021
Central, Southeast Europe stock markets jump in anticipation of COVID-free future
VISEGRAD BLOG: An easing of trade tensions but still an uncertain situation for export-oriented Central Europe
Hungary's PM risks isolation as Poland mulls dropping EU budget veto
Poland ready to back down from veto of EU budget
Hungary's ruling party in damage control mode after MEP sex scandal bombshell
Poland’s PMI remains stuck just above the improvement line at 50.8 in November
Czech companies dominate this year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE
Coronacrisis to get worse before it gets better forecasts wiiw
EU diplomats say no chance of Bulgaria removing veto for Skopje to start EU accession talks
IMF says downside risks to Albanian economy are increasing
EU ministers fail to agree on launch of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia
Western Balkans commit to green agenda and regional common market at Sofia summit
Bosnia’s opposition ousts nationalist parties in major cities
Bosnia’s main ethnic parties fight to hold onto power in local elections
Southeast Europe’s EU members to get biggest boost from next budget and recovery funds
Bulgaria imposes 3-week lockdown to slow down COVID-19 spread
CEE politicians highlight trade and security ties as they congratulate Biden
Breakaway Transnistria fully under Sheriff’s control as Obnovlenie party sweeps board in parliament election
Moldova’s presidential election is over, now the battle for the parliament begins
Moldova’s foreign policy reset
Russian establishment quick to congratulate Moldova's new president-elect
Rising COVID-19 cases put intense pressure on CEE healthcare systems
MEPs urge European Commission to act against Hungarian media financing in North Macedonia and Slovenia
North Macedonia mulls decriminalising cannabis to boost tourism
Retail surpass pre-crisis peak as Romanians shop instead of holiday
Romanian venture capital firm Catalyst launches new €40mn-50mn fund for TMT
Aegon to sell its CEE business to Vienna Insurance for €830mn
The state is back in business
Slovenian PM Jansa stands alongside Hungary and Poland in EU rule of law row
BEYOND THE BOSPORUS: Turkish number crunchers deliver November inflation surprise of 14%
Erdogan needs to go says analyst assessing Turkey’s economic collapse
Ukraine strikes deal with Turkey to produce killer drones instrumental in Karabakh conflict
In Karabakh deal, as many questions as answers
Protesters flood Yerevan demanding Armenia’s “traitor” PM quit over Nagorno-Karabakh surrender
Who emerge as the real winners from the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Below average 2020 wine production destined for volatile and uncertain global market
Iran calls on Saudis to limit $67bn defence spending to Tehran’s $10bn
Iranian prosecutors pledge to pursue Trump for Soleimani killing even after he leaves White House
No reaction from Kazakh elites as bombshell FT report says Nazarbayev’s son in law siphoned millions from pipeline scheme
UK court freezes $5bn in assets connected to fugitive Kazakh banker Ablyazov
Attack of the Debt Tsunami: global debt soars to a new all-time high
Kyrgyzstan's proposed new constitution provokes widespread revulsion
Kyrgyzstan's China debt: Between crowdfunding and austerity
CFC joins RWC in assessing KAZ Minerals buyout offer as under-valuation
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
Mongolia’s wrestling culture: From the grasslands to the cage
No surprises in Tajikistan as Rahmon retains presidency with 91% of vote
A Tajikistan poised on verge of economic calamity set for vote
Tajikistan revives on-off dispute with Iran
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
Turkmenistan: Everybody yurts, sometimes
Dirty money investigation reviews identified payments worth $1.4bn linked to Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan unveils extensive privatisation programme
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Is the genie out of the bottle where protests in Kazakhstan are concerned? Ever since demonstrators surprised the authorities and the outside world with the extent and vigour of their street demonstrations during the shoo-in snap election of Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to replace long-ruling Nursultan Nazarbayev in early June, the former Soviet state has seen protests hit the headlines almost every week.
At the weekend, law enforcement authorities in the country moved to try and nip nationwide demonstrations in the bud, quickly detaining 57 people as they broke up rallies held in several cities, including the capital Nur-Sultan and commercial capital Almaty. Rallies also took place in smaller cities such as Shymkent. The interior ministry on September 23 said around 100 people were detained in all, with nine given several-day jail sentences, six fined and the others released without charge.
Following the election period protests, during which around 4,000 people were officially taken into custody, Tokayev moved to quell tensions by, in early September, announcing that sanctioned anti-government rallies would be tolerated. But the weekend’s demonstrations were organised by the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) opposition movement, meaning officials would have looked weak if they had permitted them to take place unhindered.
“Wake Up, Kazakhstan”
Among the small-scale rallies lately ‘licensed’ by the authorities was a pro-democracy movement event in Almaty, featuring, for instance, youth members of the “Wake Up, Kazakhstan” (“Oyan, Qazaqstan” in Kazakh) group formed this year. Their event was not disturbed by any police or security force action.
The protesters at the weekend drew on the recent anger that has broken out in Kazakhstan over what are seen as inequitable Chinese investment projects, while some ire was directed at the continued influence the 79-year-old Nazarbayev is said to still wield in ruling the country from behind the scenes.
Reuters reported that in Nur-Sultan, police detained a man with a banner reading “Let’s not give way to Chinese expansion” and “The old man is the enemy”, an anti-Nazarbayev slogan. Several people chanted: “Freedom to political prisoners”. Some protesters tried to escape as police moved in and smashed the windows of a police bus, while in Almaty protesters were quickly taken away to police vehicles as they began chanting slogans against Chinese expansion and “Old man, go away!”
China is a major investor in Kazakhstan’s energy and mining sectors, but critics accuse some Chinese companies—as well as Western ones—of hiring too few local staff and paying them less than foreign workers. Rumours of corruption indulged in by Chinese investors and Kazakh officials also often result from Chinese investments.
The DVK is led by fugitive Mukhtar Ablyazov, a vocal critic of the Kazakh government who lives in self-imposed exile in France. Former banker Ablyazov is wanted by Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine on suspicion of embezzling some $5bn.
Teenage girl detained “going to the store”
Protest scenes captured by RFE/RL in Nur-Sultan included an unidentified woman who was filmed raising her hands in the air and saying: "We are peaceful, our hands are free." She was then taken to a police vehicle. Another scene shows a teenage girl being forcibly detained against her mother’s insistence that she was merely “going to the store” alongside her younger siblings.
Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor-General’s office had cautioned that people should stay away from the coordinated event, warning that law enforcement officers would take "strict measures to prevent illegal rallies".
"Destructive forces are... provoking a threat to social security by trying to incite social and ethnic discord. The Prosecutor-General's office calls on the citizens to strictly follow laws, stay away from provocations and abstain from taking part in the illegal actions and activities of organizations banned on our country’s territory," Deputy Prosecutor-General Berik Asylov said in a statement.
The Almaty-based Coalition of Civil Initiatives human rights group said on September 20 that about 50 activists had been fined or sentenced to jail terms between 7 and 15 days in the last five days in Nur-Sultan, Almaty and several other cities. They were sentenced on charges of organising or taking part in unsanctioned rallies earlier this month.
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