The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last week upheld a controversial Georgian law that sets a potential behavior trap for the country’s legendary mobsters, or thieves-in-law. While many Georgians welcome this as a European stamp of approval for Tbilisi’s aggressive crackdown on organized crime, some observers believe that the law nonetheless can encourage a disregard for civil rights.
Child-rights advocates are questioning Tajikistan’s decision to identify orphans of Tajik migrants in Russia and arrange for their return to Tajik state institutions. Though the level of institutional care in both Russia and Tajikistan is low, these advocates say, the children would still most likely be better off remaining in Russia.
One of Ukraine’s most storied football clubs has become a casualty of the country’s separatist tumult. Six foreign-born players have abandoned Shakhtar Donetsk, leaving the defending Ukrainian Premier League champion short-handed on the eve of the start of the 2014-15 season.
During the Soviet era, Communist authorities occasionally had dissidents committed to psychiatric hospitals as a way of keeping them quiet. Times have changed, but rights activists in Armenia say psychiatric hospitals are still occasionally being used and abused, especially as a means of settling financial and other disputes among friends and relatives.
Kazakhstan has lifted visa requirements for citizens of selected countries, a move designed to lure business travelers, and which is also expected to boost the tourism sector. But even without a need for visas, tourism experts believe that Kazakhstan will remain a hard sell for foreign visitors.
The strong showing of Euro-skeptic parties in May’s European Parliament elections raises questions about how easily Georgia can move from its recently signed EU Association Agreement toward its long-held goal of full-fledged EU membership.
Astana is rebooting a program to lure ethnic Kazakhs living abroad to move to Kazakhstan. Observers believe Astana’s revived interest in the program is motivated by a desire to limit Russia’s potential to meddle in Kazakhstani affairs.