A controversial vote was passed in Kiev’s Parliament over the weekend, granting more autonomy to separatist regions in the east of the country, as per the agreement outlined in the Minsk II accords this past February. This did not stop pro-Ukrainian protesters from rioting after the vote was announced, killing one police officer and injuring about 100 other people. The rioters were speculated to be members of Svoboda, a nationalist party holding several seats in Parliament.
This decentralization of power is one of the major tenets of the agreements to de-escalate the fighting that has claimed in total about 6,800 lives since the outbreak of hostilities following the Maidan protests and the annexation of Crimea. The controversial vote ended with 256 deputies in the 450 seat parliament giving approval to President Poroshenko to approve constitutional changes which would allow for greater autonomy on the part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
A final vote on the new constitutional amendment is scheduled for the fall Parliamentary session, but no specific date has been set.
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- The government of Tajikistan has enjoined the country’s largest opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) to halt its “illegal activities,” coming on the heels of the group’s failure to win a single seat of Tajikistan’s Parliament, the first time since the country’s civil war ended in 1997, and essentially leaving Rahmon without much opposition within his own government at all.
- Chinese authorities have sentenced 45 people to prison after accusing them of supporting terror attacks or assisting other to flee abroad – while the reports do not provide the ethnic background of the defendants, the names on the dockets indicate that they are all Uighurs, a Turkic minority that calls the westernmost province of Xinjiang home. The government hailed the convictions as further progress in cracking down on violent opposition in Xinjiang, where recent years have seen numerous violent attacks by Uighurs, in many cases either involving explosives or knives.
- According to new forecasts, Kazakhstan will continue to dominate the world’s production and supply of uranium until around 2025. The forecasts were supplied by Kazatomprom, the state uranium mining and exploration agency that used to produce atomic weapons for the Soviet republic. The company announced that it was planning to diversify its business towards “all stages of the front-end nuclear fuel cycle.” Kazakhstan has eclipsed the closest competitor in uranium production, Canada, by more than twofold in annual uranium production (probably stemming from the fact that uranium ore spot prices are still low after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster).
- London-based satellite design and launch company Inmarsat launched a communications satellite from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome earlier this weekend via a Proton rocket. The Russian Proton rocket program has been controversial due to its use of a toxic fuel that has been speculated to be causing major environmental damage, especially to local drinking water. However, the London based satellite firm and others have been relying more and more on the facilities from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
- Turkmenistan and the World Bank have held meetings over the weekend mostly about the use of water resources in the region. The World Bank regional director for Central Asia Saroj Kumar Jha and discussed the possibility to allow Turkmenistan access to the World Bank’s constituent financier groups like the International Bank for Reconstruction and development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).