Ukrainian government officials called a one day cease fire to the area surrounding flight MH17, in Donetsk province, Ukraine. An international rescue team comprised of thirty unarmed Dutch police officers had made an attempt to retrieve their deceased, but it had been blocked as a result of renewed violence between rebels that inhabit the area and Ukrainian military. The cease fire was called in order to ensure that rescue teams are able to access the crash site and collect the cadavers of passengers killed in the alleged rebel missile attack.
The cease fire has allowed the team to make it to the crash site, though little about the situation suggests that a longer truce is in the works. The Ukrainian parliament recently passed a new bill allocating more than $700m in new funds for its military efforts in the east, and rebels appear to be more entrenched than ever in Donetsk. The Ukrainian military has previously made gains in the region, and while the government has claimed that it is close to pushing the rebels out of their last remaining stronghold, a recent report by Reuters showing how rebels acquire increasingly sophisticated weaponry, as well as where from, leads many to believe that further escalations of violence in the region are in the cards.
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- The Ukrainian parliament has voted to reject the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The attempt to resign was allegedly provoked by the Ukrainian parliament’s refusal to pass laws that Yetsenyuk deemed vital the country’s future, and by the departure of two parties that previously supported Yatsenyuk. Whether for show or not, the attempt by Yatsenyuk seems to have had the desired effect, as shortly before the parliament voted to reject his resignation, legislation providing an additional $758 million to military efforts in Ukraine’s east was approved.
- Foreign ministers from five Central Asian states, as well as China, are meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan for Shanghai Cooperation Organization meetings. In addition to the president of the host country, leaders from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China are all in attendance, providing a rare opportunity for estranged countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to engage in dialogue.
- The Imam of the Grand Kashgar mosque, the largest mosque in China, was stabbed to death in Xinjiang province. Jume Tahir had been the Imam for decades at Kashgar, and was already well advanced in age. The motive for what is being labeled an assassination is still unknown, though conflicts between ethnic Han Chinese and Turkic Uyghur people living in the region are certain to among the possible reasons. The killing comes on the heels of reports of an unsubstantiated massacre in Xinjiang, which German media outlets report culminated in the killings of nearly 100 ethnic Uighurs by Xinjiang police.
- The largely ineffective Tajik opposition party, the Islamic Rebirth Party, has begun to complain of government campaigns designed to weaken and discredit the political party before parliamentary elections next year. The preemptive smear campaign allegedly launched by the Tajik government is certain to provoke condemnation from pro-democracy and pro-human rights organizations abroad, though it is doubtful whether change will be effected.
- Using funds from the Asian Development Bank, Tajikistan has constructed eight small hydropower plants that hold the capacity to generate 6.7 MW of electricity. The funds were allocated by the ADB in order to promote better and more widespread distribution of electricity throughout Tajikistan, which despite its vast reserves of hydroelectricity, has been prone to black outs during winter months.