After nearly a decade in office in Georgia, the once-all-powerful President Mikheil Saakashvili is on his way out. His replacement, to be elected on October 27, will enjoy only a fraction of the presidential authority that the incumbent presently wields, thanks to recently adopted constitutional amendments.
It’s Friday evening on Moscow’s Garden Ring road and Alexander Likhachyov is out to ruin a labor migrant’s night. With the help of two friends, Likhachyov – an athletic Russian in his mid-30s “from a family of taxi drivers and Muscovites” – says he is intent on “leveling the playing field” in a profession he contends that migrants are taking over.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described his recent “democratization package” of reforms as an “historical moment” for Turkey. But his failure to revamp controversial anti-terror laws is complicating relations with the European Union.
Officials and political analysts in Tbilisi believe the Kremlin is ready to reach deep into its bag of tricks to try to coerce Georgia into ditching its European Union membership ambitions and embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian Union vision.
Kremlin kingpin Vladimir Putin’s pet project to drive former Soviet states back into Moscow’s embrace – via the Customs Union -- is gathering momentum. But the possibility of expansion doesn’t thrill all the union’s current members.
China is striving to forge Central Asia into a streamlined conduit for its regional trade and energy ambitions. But Beijing is finding that domestic insecurity and fractious bilateral relations among the region’s five former-Soviet republics have created a web of obstacles.
The only unanswered question heading into Azerbaijan’s presidential election October 9 was whether it would be perceived as the country’s first-ever “free-and-fair” vote. The suspense didn’t last long, as a torrent of reports about irregularities began pouring in long before polling stations closed.