On Tuesday 20 May a court jury in Moscow convicted five men for the murder of rights activist and investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. Three of the defendants had previously been acquitted of any involvement in the murder. The defendants all face life imprisonment and announced they will appeal.
On 17 May a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights march took place in Moldovan capital Chisinau. Around one hundred people participated. Next to this group, the same amount of people hold a protest against gay rights. This happened in Georgia as well on the same day, due to a newly adopted anti-discrimination law.
In the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhanks separatists organized a referendum on independence on Sunday 11 May. Rebel organizers claim 89 percent of the votes in Donetsk, and 96 percent of votes in Luhanks, favor independence. The self-rule vote was highly controversial and has been called illegal by the EU, NATO and the US.
On 6 May the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, convened an emergency session behind closed doors to discuss the escalating crisis in the country. Security forces have been trying to regain control over eastern parts of the country after pro-Russian separatists started occupying government buildings since 15 April. After days of intense fighting the situation remains volatile and there seems to be no end in sight.
On 5 May around 100 activists representing several Kyrgyz nongovernmental organisations held a protest against Kyrgyzstan joining the Russian-led Customs Union. It is not the first time that groups in (potential) member state countries have doubts about this Union.
Since 15 April the Ukrainian government forces have attempted to clear out pro-Russian separatist strongholds in eastern Ukraine. Ten days later, the anti-terror operations are still continuing and the crisis is yet to deescalate. Today, seven people got injured near Odessa when an explosion occurred at a roadblock. On Thursday 24 April at least two separatists died when Ukrainian commandos raided pro-Russian checkpoints around the town of Sloviansk.
On 15 April Ukrainian government forces started clearing out pro-Russian separatist strongholds in eastern Ukraine. Tensions are very high as both government forces and pro-Russia separatists stage rival shows of power. On 14 April acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered Ukrainian armed forces to regain control over the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russia protesters started occupying government buildings starting 6 April.
On the evening of Sunday 6 April pro-Russian protesters occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine, demanding referendums to be held on joining Russia. Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk blamed Russia for the seizures, as interim President Olexander Turchunov cancelled his visit to Lithuania.
Yesterday, 1 April, NATO members ordered military commanders to draw up plans for reinforcing NATO’s defenses to shore up confidence among the Eastern European members, including the Baltic States and Poland. Also, all civilian and military cooperation with Russia is suspended. Foreign Ministers of the 28 NATO members gathered in Brussels for the first time since the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (AK-party) gained a substantial victory in the Turkish nationwide local elections on Sunday 30 March. Embattled Premier Erdogan has been accused of authoritarianism and corruption after a string of scandals. The local elections have become an unofficial referendum on Erdogan’s government.