Plus, Moscow police sweep markets in search of illegal migrants and a new Hungarian airline prepares to go into operation.by Ioana Caloianu, Ky Krauthamer, Vladimir Matan, and Molly Jane Zuckerman 31 July 2013
Moscow police detained more than 1,000 people in raids on the city's open-air markets following an assault that left a police officer seriously injured, Bloomberg reports.
The officer was beaten on 27 July as he tried to arrest a market worker from the southern republic of Dagestan accused of rape, police said.
The alleged attacker and his wife were later apprehended. They could be charged with life-threatening assault on a police officer, a crime that carries penalties of from 12 years to life in prison.
The Dagestani man was suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl. Around two dozen people attacked police as they tried to arrest him at the Matveyevsky market, Radio Free Europe writes.
In the two days following the attack, police began intensive checks on workers at the city markets that employ many Central Asians and internal migrants from the Caucasus.
Moscow has become the center of immigration debates as the city’s mayoral election draws near. Incumbent Sergei Sobyanin, who has so far dominated the polls, has encouraged potential migrants who don’t speak proper Russian and come from a different culture to stay in their homelands. A recent poll found that migrants are also the main concern for 44 percent of Moscow residents, Bloomberg reports. The same poll by the Public Opinion Foundation, which did not provide a margin of error for its results, placed Sobyanin 50 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival, the anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny, who is appealing his recent embezzlement conviction.
Two police officers are being investigated for failing to stop the attack on their colleague, RIA Novosti reports.
Russia has announced a ban on imports of the Ukrainian chocolate and sweets line Roshen as it follows through on earlier threats to restrict Ukrainian imports, AFP reports.
Roshen, which has not received a formal statement on the ban from Russia, denies the allegations, and Ukrkondprom, a Ukrainian association of sweets makers, reacted to the ban with an invitation for Russian experts to inspect Ukrainian candy factories, according to RIA Novosti.
One of Ukraine’s largest sweets makers, Roshen earned net profits of almost $40 million last year on exports to Russia, according to Radio Free Europe.
Russia and Ukraine recently butted heads over each country's discriminatory fees on imported cars. Earlier this month Russia threatened to restrict imports of Ukrainian chocolate, glass, and coal, although the ban on Roshen products took some observers by surprise, RFE writes.
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov denied a trade war was in progress and said officials would soon issue a statement on the dispute.
The ban on Roshen imports came shortly after a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to mark the 1025th anniversary of the eastern Slavs' conversion to Christianity.
RFE notes that the anniversary celebrations did not have the intended effect of strengthening bonds between the countries.
Russia has been pressing Ukraine to join its Eurasian customs union. However, Ukraine is expected to sign an association agreement with the EU in November, which has increased tensions between the two countries, RFE notes.
RFE notes that past bans by Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian public health and safety agency, on Moldovan, Georgian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian imports have matched times of political tension.
“In my opinion, there's no such thing as a random coincidence when it comes to Onishchenko’s announcements,” former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko said.
Bulgaria is eager for better relations with its Macedonian neighbor, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said 28 July.
The already strained ties between the two countries deteriorated further when Bulgaria, along with Greece, vetoed the start of EU accession talks with Skopje in November.
The tone was more upbeat after Oresharski held an informal meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, on 28 July. Afterward, Oresharski expressed his country's support for Macedonian entry into NATO and the European Union.
Bulgaria would be willing to sign a friendship deal that would settle some issues, Oresharski told journalists, Novinite.com reports.
The “good-neighbor agreement” is being negotiated between the countries’ foreign ministries. Key issues to be addressed concern the celebration of historical events common to both countries and Macedonia's stance on ethnic Macedonians in foreign countries, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin said.
“We insist on a good-neighborly relations and cooperation agreement and we hope that work on it will continue at an accelerated pace,” Oresharski said. “I emphasized to [Gruevski] that, in order to smooth out the existing differences, it would be good to organize joint celebrations of historical events which are interpreted differently in the two countries.”
The two countries share a similar history and language. Many Bulgarians consider Macedonia a part of the wider Bulgarian cultural sphere.
Privately owned Solyom Hungarian Airways plans to start flying its first routes within weeks, six months after the flagship carrier Malev collapsed under a pile of debt.
Unlike state-owned Malev, Solyom Hungarian Airways will take no public money, managing director Jozsef Vago told a television reporter, according to The Budapest Times.
Solyom will initially fly routes from Budapest to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris, and Stockholm, the airline industry consultants CAPA are reporting. Delivery of its first leased aircraft is expected in mid-August, with five more due to arrive in September.
“Solyom will not be a budget airline, but besides services we will also compete with price,” The Budapest Times quotes Vago as saying.
Vago’s expansive plans – he foresees 50 aircraft carrying 8 million passengers annually by 2017 – apparently do not impress all analysts. Hungary's Capitol Consulting Group predicts the company will run up huge losses, the business daily HVG writes, according to Budapest Business Journal.
A partner at the group said the Airbus 330 and 340 planes that will make up Solyom’s initial fleet have not been manufactured since 1999 and will cost more to maintain than most craft used by European airlines.
Russia is ready to help Belarus construct a research station in Antarctica, Belarusian Antarctic expedition head Aleksei Gaidashov told the official BelTA news agency.
Belarusian and Russian Antarctic experts held a working meeting on 30 July.
The two countries have cooperated on polar research for some time. In 2008 Russia agreed to turn over its Gora Vechernyaya station to Belarus. Three years later Belarus began a five-year research program there aiming to measure ozone levels among other tasks.
Belarus plans to build its station by 2018. The first Russian-built module is expected to arrive in late 2014, Gaidashov said.
Antarctica is Earth's southernmost and coldest continent, BelTA notes helpfully.
Among the 30 or so countries that operate Antarctic stations are small Northern Hemisphere states such as Belgium and the Czech Republic.