Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!
Plus, a Jewish leader apologizes to the Hungarian prime minister and Croatia says a sad farewell to a favorite beverage.by Ioana Caloianu, Ky Krauthamer, and Vladimir Matan 8 May 2013
A man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2011 murder of the former Russian army officer who became notorious for the brutal slaying of a young Chechen woman.
Prosecutors originally charged Temerkhanov with revenge killing, claiming the ethnic Chechen sought vengeance for the killing of his father by Russian soldiers in 2000, Radio Free Europe writes. The charge was changed to murder when the jury rejected the revenge killing charge.
Budanov’s case became a touchstone for Russian nationalists and defenders of the Chechen cause alike. Lawyer Stanislav Markelov contested his early release on behalf of the slain girl's family, shortly before he himself was gunned down on a Moscow street in 2009 along with Anastasia Baburova, a young journalist who covered human rights issues.
Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhadzhiyev, denounced the case against Temerkhanov as a “witch hunt,” RFE writes, and backed his legal team's claim that two defense witnesses came under pressure to change their testimony.
The Bosnian state court has acquitted a former prime minister of the country's Serb region, Gojko Klickovic, and another former Bosnian Serb officer of war crimes committed during fighting in 1992, Balkan Insight reports.
The prosecution accused Klickovic, then a military commander in the region, of ordering the attack and the imprisonment and expulsion of non-Serb civilians. Mladen Drljaca, then the president of a military court, was also cleared.
An appeals court ordered the two men to be retried following their acquittals in a 2010 trial. The latest ruling by the state court cannot be appealed.
Klickovic served as prime minister of Republika Srpska from 1996 until 1998, when he fled to Serbia. He was arrested in Belgrade in 2006, according to bportal.ba.
Klickovic told reporters he was “a small fish compared to others” and that the “people who committed crimes [in Bosanska Krupa] must be prosecuted.”
The president of the World Jewish Congress has apologized to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for associating his country with anti-Semitism, according to Bloomberg. Ronald S. Lauder, freshly re-elected at the organization's convention in Budapest, withdrew his charge that Orban had not drawn a “clear line” between his government and the far-right Jobbik party. A publicist for the organization said Lauder had been unaware of Orban's comment last week that Jobbik posed a threat to democracy, Bloomberg reports.
The growing strength of Jobbik and other far-right parties in Europe was a major talking point at the three-day annual convention, being held for the first time this year in the Hungarian capital rather than its usual venue in Jerusalem. Orban denounced anti-Semitism during his opening address to delegates 5 May, although he did not mention Jobbik by name, Reuters reports. The openly anti-Semitic and anti-Roma party won 17 percent of the vote in the 2010 election.
Orban's conservative Fidesz party has sometimes appeared to court the same extreme-right constituency contested by Jobbik. Robin Shepherd, author of a study on European neo-Nazi parties, told the congress, “If Orban goes too hard against Jobbik, he's worried he won't be able to scoop up Jobbik’s voters,” Reuters reports.
With less than two months to go before entering the European Union, Croatia finds itself in a battle over wine.
This sparked an outcry from vintners angry at being given so little notice of the change. The announcement, however, was withdrawn shortly afterward, business magazine Poslovni Dnevnik writes. Agriculture Minister Tihomir Jakovina then tried to shift the blame to the negotiators with the EU and promised his ministry would do all it could to protect the name, the magazine writes.
"Prosek is an established variety that has been produced in these areas for more than 2,000 years," award-winning winemaker Andro Tomic told Tportal. He suggested relabeling the variety “Vino Dalmato.”
Prosek is not the only wine name under dispute in the final weeks before Croatia joins the EU. Another wine, Teran, is claimed by Slovenia, together with Kranjska klobasa, a sausage claimed by Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria.
The nature of Vladimir Putin’s leadership is changing as the Russian leader begins to realize he can no longer count on unchallenged leadership, Estonian journalist Kadri Liik writes on the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
“People have stopped associating Putin with hopes for the future; instead those who support him do so because they see no credible alternative,” Liik writes. “Protest has now moved from streets into the souls, where it is ripening, mutating, and waiting for a time to manifest itself again, probably in new ways.”
After the mass demonstrations against perceived fraud at the 2011 parliamentary elections Putin “truly got scared” and proceeded to lash out at the opposition, independent civil society groups, and other potential threats, Liik quotes a former high official as saying.
Meanwhile, it may be time for Europe to reconsider its stance toward Russia, rather than continually bouncing between the poles of containment and engagement, the ECFR's Jana Kobzova suggests. “The Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown on political opponents and civil society remains a source of concern. So does Moscow’s support for the Syrian regime or the use of its gas deliveries to East European countries dependent on it for political goals,” she writes. However, “the EU currently lacks ideas about how it could pressure Moscow to change the way it treats the domestic NGOs or to win its cooperation on Syria.”
Moscow knows its hydrocarbon-driven economy must be opened to foreign investment, Kobzova writes. But “Moscow seems unwilling to change the system. While a successful anti-corruption drive would attract foreign capital and know-how, it would also threaten the system of patronage and cronyism that has kept Vladimir Putin in power for more than a decade. Given the risks to regime survival, Moscow prefers not to act.”
Now available! A new TOL e-book: "Crimea: The Anatomy of a Crisis" is a compilation of articles from TOL’s past coverage about Russia's annexation of Crimea, placed in the context of long-running disputes over the region. Find out also what's happened to Crimea and its people nearly a year after Russia's move shocked the international community.