Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!
Browder Accuses Latvia of Adding Detergent to Russian Laundromat
Illicit Russian Money Pops Up in Montenegro
Montenegro is another country whose authorities paid no heed to Browder. The trail of Russian money led to “a sleek 21-meter yacht moored in Porto Montenegro, an exclusive marina on the Balkan nation’s Adriatic coast,” which, according to an OCCRP investigation, “was more than just a pleasure cruiser for the rich: It was a vessel for moving money of dubious origin via inflated yacht rental fees.” The company that paid for the rentals drew its funds from two British Virgin Islands companies, whose owner Dmitry Klyuev is believed by U.S. authorities to be the mastermind behind the tax fraud scheme revealed by Magnitsky. The company that owned the yacht also purchased an apartment building on the Montenegrin coast with money that Browder alleged came from the same fraudulent source. Neither the highest state prosecutor nor the chief special prosecutor took action on Browder’s complaint, OCCRP says.
No Houses and No Roads
Years after their houses and apartments were demolished to make way for building projects such as Tirana’s outer ring road, many Albanians are still waiting to receive the compensation promised by the government, Balkan Insight reports. One couple, Zayhra and Halil Gjapi, “were homeless for four months and lived at the doorway of an apartment block in Tirana after the government bulldozed their house in 2014,” according to BIRN. The authorities offered the couple social housing only once their story spread on social media. “The unpaid compensation derives from problems with ownership documents. Delays caused by a lack of funds [in the authority] are just a small part of it,” the Road Authority told BIRN, adding that it is obligated to pay owners of expropriated properties as soon as possible. In other cases, houses were expropriated to make way for a road that didn’t even cross the owners’ village.
Prosperous Village Built on Forced Labor
Uzbeks are also experiencing their share of trouble with government-initiated building projects, like Prosperous Village, part of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s rural development scheme. RFE/RL reports that thousands of people were recruited for project-related works “against their will,” quoting an anonymous person from a town where such work are ongoing as saying, "Those who don't have anyone to take care of their children came to work with their kids." Those summoned were also threatened with the loss of jobs, pensions, or child support if they didn’t take part in the work. Last year, the UN’s International Labor Organization announced that Uzbekistan continued to use forced labor in the cotton fields, although the combination of a cotton boycott by big Western retailers, higher wages for pickers, and a less repressive government since the death of longtime leader Islam Karimov means far fewer people are pulled from schools and jobs and sent to the fields during the harvest.
Would-Be Petersburg Politicians in Kafkaesque Charade