Friday, July 25, 2014

The Week Ahead: June 23-29

June 27: The European Union signs Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and completes the signature process with Ukraine.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, June 23:

Armenia/Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Yerevan.

Azerbaijan/Russia: Gabala hosts the fifth Azerbaijan-Russia Interregional Forum (to June 24).

EU: Foreign Affairs Council begins in Luxembourg.

Iraq: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Baghdad.

PACE: The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Summer Session begins in Strasbourg.

World: International Olympic Day.

World: Mozambique hosts the Mine Ban Treaty’s Review Conference (to June 27). 

TUESDAY, June 24:

: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is scheduled to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Austrian President Heinz Fischer in Vienna.

NATO: Brussels hosts a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting (to June 25).

Ukraine/IMF: The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) mission visits Kyiv to conduct the first review of the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA).


Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow.

Germany/Ukraine: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits Kyiv.

THURSDAY, June 26:

EU: The EU heads of state or government attend the European Council meeting in Brussels.

Ukraine: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

UN: International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

UN: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

FRIDAY, June 27:

EU: The European Union signs Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and completes the signature process with Ukraine.

Tajikistan: National Reconciliation Day.

SATURDAY, June 28:

OSCE/Azerbaijan: Baku hosts the annual session of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly (to July 2).

Ukraine: Constitution Day.

SUNDAY, June 29:

: Repeat elections to be held in those seven precincts where the June 15 local election results were either annulled or the voting process disrupted on polling day.

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

The Week Ahead: June 16-22

June 20: World Refugee Day.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, June 16:

Armenia/Germany: Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian visits Berlin (to June 17).

Armenia/PACE: The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Armenia visit Yerevan (to June 18).

Azerbaijan/Greece: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visits Athens to discuss the construction of the TAP pipeline (to June 17). 

Belarus/Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Minsk.

Iran: Vienna hosts another round of talks on the Tehran's nuclear program (to June 20).

Moldova/France: Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca visits Paris.

Moldova/Czech Republic: Czech Senate Vice Speaker Premysl Sobotka visits Chisinau (to June 19).

NATO/South Caucasus: The NATO Parliamentary Assembly's 86th Rose Roth seminar titled “South Caucasus: Challenges And Opportunities” opens in Baku.

Russia: Moscow hosts the 21st World Petroleum Congress (to June 19).

Russia/Serbia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Belgrade (to June 17).

U.S./Europe: The German Marshall Fund of the United States hosts a discussion with U.S. Assistan Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on the current state of the U.S.-European partnership.

Uzbekistan: South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits Tashkent and Samarkand (to June 18).

WorldStockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) releases its World Nuclear Forces 2014 report.

TUESDAY, June 17:

: The 28th round of the Geneva International Discussions between Georgia and Russia begins in Switzerland (to June 18).

Russia/AzerbaijanRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Baku (to June 18).

Tajikistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visits Dushanbe (to June 18).

UN: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.


Kazakhstan: South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits Astana (to June 20).

Ukraine/Czech Republic: Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek visits Kyiv (to June 19).

U.S./UkraineAtlantic Council in Washington hosts a discussion titled "The Ukraine Crisis And NATO."

WorldThe Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) releases its annual Global Peace Index.

THURSDAY, June 19:

Russia: International film festival opens in Moscow (to June 28).

FRIDAY, June 20:

Turkmenistan: South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits Ashgabat (to June 21).

U.K./Russia: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled "From The Kremlin To Kyiv: Russian Security Services."

UN: World Refugee Day.

SATURDAY, June 21:

Belarus/Russia: Brest hosts the 46th session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union State of Russia and Belarus (USRB) under the chairmanship of Russian State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

SUNDAY, June 22:

: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Yerevan (to June 23).

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

Bosnia And Croatia Find Support In Unlikely Quarters For Soccer World Cup

Throngs of young people jumped with joy after Croatia went ahead against Brazil in their World Cup opener in Sao Paolo.
"Yes!" many of them screamed, while others pumped fists in the air, some of them clad in the red-and-white checkered jersey symbolizing Croatia's historic coat-of-arms.
A chance visitor would be forgiven for thinking that he or she was in the middle of the soccer-mad Croatian capital of Zagreb.
Actually, this was happening in the center of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, Croatia's "arch-enemy" in sports, politics and -- two decades ago -- on the battlefield as the former Yugoslavia collapsed in a series of wars.
Football rivalries, sometimes reflecting historical relations, often run very deep -- just ask your average English, Irish, or Scottish fan.
In the light of recent bloody history, however, they are taken to the extreme in the Balkans. Deep antagonism, even hatred, especially among the young, seemed to be the rule and supporting the "others" is anathema.
But for several dozen young Belgrade residents, as well as a growing number of people throughout the region, this attitude just does not make sense at all.
That's why big-stage debutants Bosnia and relative tournament veterans Croatia, the only teams from the region in Brazil, can count on noisy support from some unlikely quarters this time around.
"I can only say that I cheer from the bottom of my heart for the neighbors, a little bit more for Bosnia than for Croatia, I have to say, but tonight for Croatia," a woman in her twenties told RFE/RL's Balkan service in a cultural center in Belgrade to the sound of almost frantic cheering for Croatia in the background.
The shared viewing of this and other games, under the slogan "Cheer for Your Neighbor," was organized by the "Youth Initiative for Human Rights,"a Belgrade-based non-governmental organization with a reputation for breaking ethnic-based taboos in Serbian society.
"We have to support each other. After all, we belong to the same culture," another woman said, standing against a wall adorned by the Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian flags.
One of those who could be credited with helping this thaw is Novak Djokovic, the world's  number two tennis player.

Util recently, he was seen outside of Serbia as someone who allows himself to be too easily used by politicians when it comes promoting a nationalist Serbian identity.
But, after massive floods hit Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia last month, "Nole" did not spurn the opportunity to appeal for assistance to the three countries, saying that, when disaster strikes, there is no difference between these peoples.
He also didn't do any harm by saying that, in the absence of Serbia at the World Cup, he would cheer for Bosnia and Croatia.
Still, this may not be enough to persuade most Bosnian Serbs and Croats to support "the Dragons" as Bosnia's national team is affectionately known.
The team has been dominated by Bosniak Muslim players, but over the two decades since it first came into existence, Bosnian Serb and Croat coaches and players have played very important roles.
The western part of the ethnically divided city of Mostar looks no different than most Croatian cities these days -- Croatian flags and banners in support of "the Fiery Ones" adorn the town's streets and buildings.
Unlike Sarajevo, which awaits Bosnia's first game against Argentina on June 15 in a state of euphoria, in Banja Luka, the capital of Bosnia's Serb Republic, the World Cup does not seem to arouse any passion -- apart from those who say that, in the absence of Serbia, they would support any team except Bosnia and Croatia.
But even there, after years of  widespread open contempt for the Bosnian team, there are signs that things are changing.
"I will support Bosnia, why not? After all, our players from Banja Luka and from Republika Srpska are on the team," one young man told RFE/RL.
 -- Written by Nedim Dervisbegovic in Prague based on reporting by Zoran Glavonjic in Belgrade, Selma Boracic in Sarajevo, and Erduan Katana in Banja Luka
Question image

RFE/RL's World Cup Quiz

Test yourself to see how much you know about the World Cup exploits of countries from RFE/RL's target region.

Psychic Saiga, A Kazakh World Cup Twitter Tipster

If Psychic Saiga's World Cup predictions become a hit, they could help draw some welcome attention to the plight of his fellow antelopes. Kazakhstan's saiga population has decline rapidly in recent years.

Meet Psychic Saiga, an antelope that roams the Kazakhstan steppe, and uses his magic powers to predict the 2014 World Cup soccer results. Or so he claims on Twitter.

Using animals to predict soccer match results has become a worldwide craze since Paul the Octopus, who lived in a tank in Oberhausen, Germany, shot to fame by correctly predicting eight matches during the 2010 World Cup, including the final, when he foresaw Spain's victory over the Netherlands. (Paul didn't fare too well in the 2008 European Championship, however, getting two out six predictions wrong.)
Since Paul's impressive run, other animals around the world have attempted to get in on the act.
Big Heads, a turtle in Brazil, Madam Shiva, a guinea pig in Switzerland, and a team of baby pandas in China –to name just a few – are all aiming to predict the winners of each match at the World Cup in Brazil.
Psychic Saiga is also facing competition at home in Kazakhstan from Tomiris the Monkey from the Almaty zoo. 
But unlike other psychic animals, Psychic Saiga has never been seen. In fact, there is no evidence that he even exists other than his Twitter account.@psychicsaiga.
Psychic Saiga, or whoever is tweeting in his name, also claims his predictions won't be limited to the World Cup -- or even sports.
"I roam the steppe and use my powers to predict future events via a shaman friend of mine," he tweeted recently.
The antelope, however, got his debut prediction wrong by saying that the opening World Cup game between Brazil and Croatia would end in a draw.

The host, Brazil won the June 12 match, beating Croatia 3-1.
Unfazed by the error, Psychic Saiga blamed it on a "dodgy" call by the referee.
"It should have been a ref from Uzbekistan," he tweeted.
He went on to make more predictions, forecasting victory in matches for Mexico over Cameroon and Chile over Australia on June 13 as well as a draw between Spain and the Netherlands on the same day.
As for the final game, Psychic Saiga predicts Argentina will win the World Cup with a victory over runner-up England.
Will Psychic Saiga be a worthy successor to Paul the Octopus? Will his predictions be better than Madam Shiva's and Big Heads, the turtle's?
If so, he may raise the profile of his fellow Saiga antelopes, an endangered species often hunted by poachers. 
The population of Kazakhstan's saigas, which stood at around a million in the 1980s, has now decreased to some 137,000. 
-- Farangis Najibullah
Question image

RFE/RL's World Cup Quiz

Test yourself to see how much you know about the World Cup exploits of countries from RFE/RL's target region.

The Week Ahead: June 9-15

June 12-July 13: Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

Follow Me on Pinterest

MONDAY, June 9:

Iran/EU/U.S.Diplomats from the United States and the European Union hold talks with Iranian negotiators in Geneva (to June 10).

Iran/Turkey: Iranian President Hassan Rohani visits Ankara.

Kazakhstan: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Suma Chakrabarti visits Astana and Almaty (to June 13). 

Pakistan/NigeriaPakistani President Mamnoon Hussain visits Abuja, capital of Nigeria (to June 12).

Russia/Finland: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Helsinki (to June 10).

Tajikistan/Latvia: Latvian President Adris Berzins visits Dushanbe (to June 11).

U.S./Afghanistan/Pakistan: Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled "Shaping the Future? The Role of the Regional Powers in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

TUESDAY, June 10:

EuropeWorld Economic Forum (WEF) launches the latest edition of its Europe 2020 Competitiveness Report

EU/Eastern Partnership: EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele attends dinner with senior officials from Eastern Partnership Countries in Brussels.

Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meet in St. Petersburg.

UK: British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy for Refugees Angelina Jolie co-chair the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London (to June 13).


Kazakhstan: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Fatema Sumar visits Astana (to June 13).

Moldova/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Chisinau (to June 12).

Moldova/EUEU-Moldova International Investors' Conference opens in Chisinau (to June 12).

SerbiaSerbian Prime Minister Alexandar Vucic meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Serbia/Belarus: Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is scheduled to visit Belgrade.

THURSDAY, June 12:

Brazil: Brazil hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup (to July 13)

Georgia/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Tbilisi, meets with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

Russia: Russia Day.

UNWorld Day Against Child Labor.

U.S.: New York hosts the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival (to June 22).

FRIDAY, June 13:

Azerbaijan/EU: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits Baku (to June 15). 

Georgia/EUEU-Georgia International Investors' Conference opens in Tbilisi.

SATURDAY, June 14:

Afghanistan: Second round of the country's presidential election

WHO: World Blood Donor Day

SUNDAY, June 15:

: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Minsk (to June 16).

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty

Ukraine Separatists Fix Up Soviet Tank

Just a bit less modern than what the Ukrainian Army has....

Pro-Russian separatists in the Ukrainian village of Konstantynovka have managed to fix up a World War II-era tank at a war memorial and send it into combat, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
"Our craftsmen have managed  to start the engine  of the IS-3  tank displayed on a platform in the park. The tank is being prepared and will engage in  the  combat soon,"  the  press service  of  the  unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic told Interfax. 
If this is the tank in the video below, it's hard to say how effective this may prove to be:

A Real Ladies' Man: Putin's Remarks On Women Over The Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) has caused a stir by making some apparently disparaging comments about former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Vladimir Putin has raised more than a few eyebrows by suggesting that former U.S. Secretary of State -- and possible 2016 presidential hopeful -- Hillary Clinton was a weak woman.
The Kremlin leader made the remarks during a live interview with a French television station on June 4.
"It's better not to argue with women," Putin said in reference to remarks Clinton made in March comparing Russia's annexation of Crimea to Adolf Hitler's moves into Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other parts of Europe in the 1930s -- ostensibly to protect German minorities.
"When people push boundaries too far, it's not because they are strong but because they are weak," Putin said. "But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman."
It's not the first time Putin has made controversial comments about women. Here's a selection of some of the other remarks he has made over the years:
Insulting His Wife
Years before his rise to the Kremlin, in mid-1990s, Putin reportedly made an unflattering comment about his then-wife Lyudmila.
"Anyone who can live at least two weeks with Lyudmila, deserves a monument," he said according to an account in Oleg Blotsky's 2002 book, "Vladimir Putin: The Road to Power." 
A Caring Former Spouse?
In June 2013, the Putin's announced the couple's decision to pursue a "civilized divorce" which was finalized this year. In April, at his annual call-in program with Russian citizens, Putin said he hasn't completely ruled out a second marriage.
"First I need to get my ex-wife Lyudmila married, then I'll think about myself," he said.
Shocking Remarks On Rape
In a 2006 incident widely reported in Western and Russian media, Putin was overheard praising the virility of former Israeli President Moshe Katsav, then accused of multiple sex offences.  Katsav has since been jailed on rape and sexual harassment charges.
"What a mighty man [Katsav] turns out to be! He raped 10 women," Russian media quoted Putin as saying.  "We all envy him." 
The comments were later blamed by the Kremlin on the "very complicated" Russian language, saying no translation would be "able to reflect the meaning of the joke."
Flattering, Or Patronizing?
Answering questions in 2008 about his rumored relationship with former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, Putin said he liked "all Russian women."
"I don't think I will offend anyone if I say that I -- personally -- consider that our Russian women are the most talented and the most beautiful," Putin said, although he vigorously rejected any alleged romantic links with Kabaeva. 
'But Don't Make Me Say That Word On Television!'
In 2012, Putin called Pussy Riot, the punk performance-art group "talented girls" -- despite the fact that the feminist collective are all adults.  
When asked during a television interview if he knew the meaning of the group's name. Putin said he knew -- but wouldn't say it on national television.
"See, if the girls made the whole world to say an unmentionable word, it means they are talented," Putin said.
-- Farangis Najibullah

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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