Ukrainian and separatist representatives are meeting in Minsk for a third time, but marking the first official meeting since the signing of a peace deal in February. The two sides, including officials from Russia and the OSCE held talks yesterday to discuss how to create more stability in the eastern region of the country. Both sides continually accuse the other of ceasefire violations but both agreed to the need to shore up the plan.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was not present at the talks, warned of a worsening conflict as the result of increasing violence after 4 soldiers were killed in eastern Ukraine. President Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are additionally meeting to discuss the faltering situation in Ukraine. European leaders are by and large snubbing the Russian Victory Day parade in Moscow, celebrating the defeat of the Nazis in Europe in 1945.
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- Azerbaijan has jailed an opposition leader for six years on drug possession charges, which were dismissed by both the defendant, Faradj Kerimli, and his lawyer as completely fabricated. The courts also sentences Kerimli’s brother as well, as rights groups have increased their campaign to stifle opposition to Aliyev’s election to a third term in 2013.
- The US Senate will be voting today on the Iran nuclear deal, specifically on the Iranian Nuclear Review Act, which has been criticized by Iranian officials who say they are negotiating in good faith only with negotiators, not with legislators. The bill also aims to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran in the event of noncompliance with the stipulations of the deal.
- Uzbek President Islam Karimov said he will attend Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations, in a surprising turn of events indicating a possible rapprochement between Moscow and Tashkent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Vladimir Putin to speak on diplomatic matters related to the Ukrainian ceasefire – however, she will not be attending the parade, joining a parade of European leaders who will snub the event.
- The Iranian government has launched an event designed to promote its oil and gas industry as a tentative deal with Western nuclear powers is worked out. Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh gave the keynote address at the four-day event in Tehran. The industry almost markets itself – with the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves and second largest natural gas deposits, if sanctions are lifted in June and July, Iran will be on the road to becoming a worldwide leader in energy.
- A Russian company has won the rights to develop a second Kyrgyz gold-mine at Jerui. Criticisms have been rampant since the deal’s announcement, citing cronyism and lack of Kyrgyz national interests in allowing the Russian company, Vostok-Geoldobycha, to develop. The issue stems from Kyrgyzstan’s state gold company Kyrgyzaltyn offering a higher bid – but the Russian company offers better technology and a more lenient investment program, according to the minister in charge of the decision.