Posts tagged "European Union"

h/t: Cécile Alduy at The Nation

h/t: Huffington Post, via AP

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Magda Teter at TPM Cafe

h/t: Think Progress World

KIEV, Ukraine — Mayhem gripped the center of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday evening as riot police officers moved on protesters massed behind barriers raised throughout Independence Square, the focal point of more than two months of protests against President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

As the attack began just before 8 p.m. local time, the police tried to drive two armored personnel carriers through stone-reinforced barriers outside the Khreschatyk Hotel in the square. But they became bogged down and, set upon by protesters wielding rocks and fireworks, burst into flames, apparently trapping the security officers inside and prompting desperate rescue efforts from their colleagues.

[…]

The fighting broke out a day after Russia threw a new financial lifeline to Mr. Yanukovych’s government by buying $2 billion in Ukrainian government bonds.

The Russian aid signaled confidence from the Kremlin that important votes in Parliament expected this week to amend the Constitution and form a new cabinet will go in Russia’s favor. It also highlighted the absence of any clear promise of financial aid from the European Union or the United States, which have supported the opposition in Ukraine.

Mr. Yanukovych negotiated a $15 billion loan with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in December, and Ukraine received a first segment of this soon afterward when Russia purchased Ukrainian bonds worth $3 billion. But Russia suspended further payments last month after violent clashes broke out in Kiev and the pro-Russian prime minister resigned.

h/t: New York Times

Ukraine repeals tough laws, army calls for ‘urgent steps’ (via AFP)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych scrapped controversial anti-protest laws Friday but faced calls from the military to take “urgent steps” to ease the ex-Soviet nation’s worst crisis since independence. A leading protester reappeared with his face…

TEHRAN — Iran’s interim nuclear deal with the world’s major powers is scheduled to begin on January 20, officials with Iran and the European Union said Sunday.

"Capitals have confirmed the result of the talks in Geneva … the Geneva deal will be implemented from January 20," Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told reporters in Tehran, the semi-official Mehr news agency said.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also confirmed the news in a statement on Sunday. 

Ashton represents the six nations — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — in diplomatic contacts with Iran related to the nuclear standoff. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the final pieces were in place for the 2015 launch of an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan that Moscow hopes can also be joined by Ukraine.

Putin promised following talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko that the so-called Eurasian Economic Union would turn into a new source of growth for all involved.

The alliance would replace a much looser Eurasian Customs Union that Russia formed with the two ex-Soviet nations in an effort to build up a free trade rival to the 28-nation EU bloc.

“Government representatives of the troika (Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus) … have developed the draft of the institutional part of the Eurasian Economic Union agreement,” Putin said in televised remarks.

“This document determines the international legal status, organisational frameworks, the objectives and mechanisms of how the union will operate starting on January 1, 2015,” Putin said.

Putin has made the creation of a post-Soviet economic union that could one day even be joined by nations such as Turkey and India the keystone project of his third Kremlin term.

Russia has put immense pressure on Ukraine to join the alliance and threatened economic sanctions against Kiev when it was on the verge of signing a landmark trade and political association deal with Brussels last month.

Kiev’s decision to spurn the EU pact sparked the biggest protests since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution and exposed the deep cultural rifts running between the nationalist west of Ukraine and its more Russified eastern parts.

But the size of those rallies began to ebb when Ukraine agreed a $15-billion bailout package with Russia that also included a one-third cut in the price Moscow charges its neighbour for natural gas.

[…]

The three nations on Tuesday also agreed on a “road map” paving the way for the membership in their union of Armenia — a tiny ex-Soviet Caucasus nation that had also been expected to sign an initial agreement with Brussels last month.

Putin rewarded Armenia’s reversal by slashing the price of its natural gas imports from Russia to $189 from $270 per 1,000 cubic metres.

Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said it should take “about half a year” for Armenia to formally join the existing Moscow-led customs pact.

Putin added that the impoverished Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan was also conducting initial membership talks.

Kyrgyzstan’s participation has been held up by Russia’s worries over its inability to plug its porous border with China.

h/t:  The Raw Story

h/t: Kiley Kroh

KIEV — Crowds toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital and attacked it with hammers on Sunday in the latest mass protests against President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans for closer ties with Russia.

The statue’s felling - a symbolic rejection of Moscow’s power - came after opposition leaders told hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to keep up pressure on Yanukovich to sack his government.

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw the protesters breaking up the statue with hammers after using ropes and metal bars to bring it crashing down.

The demonstrators are furious with the Yanukovich government for its decision to ditch a landmark pact with the European Union in favor of a trade deal with Moscow, Ukraine’s Soviet-era overlord.

Yanukovich’s sudden tack towards Russia has provoked the biggest street protests since the 2004-5 Orange Revolution, when people power forced a re-run of a fraud-tainted election and thwarted his first run for the presidency.

Sunday’s rally marked a further escalation in weeks of confrontation between the authorities and protesters that have raised fears for political and economic stability in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people.

"This is a decisive moment when all Ukrainians have gathered here because they do not want to live in a country where corruption rules and where there is no justice," said world heavyweight boxing champion-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko.

[…]

Ukraine’s opposition accuses Yanukovich, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, of preparing to take the country into a Moscow-led customs union, which they see as an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union.

"We are on a razor’s edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community," jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an emotional message to the crowd, read out by her daughter Yevgenia.

Yanukovich has said he decided to shelve the EU trade deal because it would have been too costly for Ukraine’s struggling economy and the country needs more time to prepare for such a move. He says he is preparing a “strategic partnership” with Russia, but has not committed to joining the customs union.

h/t: NBCNews.com

volumenometry:

I really like this guy.

p.s. Britain, please abandon David Cameron. 

arnabocean:

A bit of explanation on the Cyprus situation.

Why are Cypriot banks so big? Because the country is a tax haven where corporations and wealthy foreigners stash their money. Officially, 37 percent of the deposits in Cypriot banks come from nonresidents; the true number, once you take into account wealthy expatriates and people who are only nominally resident in Cyprus, is surely much higher. Basically, Cyprus is a place where people, especially but not only Russians, hide their wealth from both the taxmen and the regulators. Whatever gloss you put on it, it’s basically about money-laundering.

And the truth is that much of the wealth never moved at all; it just became invisible. On paper, for example, Cyprus became a huge investor in Russia — much bigger than Germany, whose economy is hundreds of times larger. In reality, of course, this was just “roundtripping” by Russians using the island as a tax shelter.

It’s similar, Krugman says, to what happened in Iceland during the financial crisis, and how Iceland handled the situation then may be a good model for Cyprus to follow too.

Great piece from the always excellent Dr. Krugman.

(A great book on the precipitation of the financial crisis in nations such as Iceland, Greece and Ireland is Boomerang, by Michael Lewis. Go read it if you’re interested in this topic, highly recommended.)