Protests in Skopje against life sentences for 2012 Lake Smilkovsko murders turn violent

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 28, 2021

Protests after three ethnic Albanians given life sentences in "Monster" case for brutal killings of five men.

Top ruling party lawmaker assesses West’s reaction to Georgia’s political crisis as “measured and soft”

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 26, 2021

Analyst suggests sanctions needed against kingpin oligarch Ivanishvili in effort to defend democracy.

Croatia and Serbia launch Eurobonds to high investor interest

Eldar Dizdarevic in Sarajevo, Denitsa Koseva in Sofia February 25, 2021

Two Southeast European states take advantage of favourable market conditions to get away oversubscribed bond issues.

Ikea opens first store in Slovenia with low key, socially distanced launch

bne IntelliNews February 25, 2021

Swedish furniture giant adds fifth store in Southeast Europe region after pandemic forced delay.

Armenian PM takes to streets claiming military coup under way

bne IntelIiNews February 25, 2021

Move comes after open letter demanding he quit was published by head of general staff of the armed forces.

Lufthansa to launch a first class "Corona Lounge" in Moscow to immunise rich Germans

Jason Corcoran in Dublin February 25, 2021

German national carrier Lufthansa is seeking to arrange dedicated flights to Moscow so wealthy Germans can avail themselves of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in what would be a huge publicity coup for the Kremlin, bne IntelliNews can reveal.

European Commission hopes to use new rule of law tool this year

Robert Anderson in Prague February 25, 2021

Vice-president Jourova says Hungary and Poland could soon have EU budget money withheld if they continue to violate rule of law.

Latvian oligarch Aivars Lembergs jailed for five years for financial crimes

Linas Jegelevicius in Vilnius February 25, 2021

Corrupt political kingpin finally goes to jail for bribery and money laundering after court battle lasting 12 years.

Bulgaria to reopen restaurants and night clubs despite surging coronavirus cases

Denitsa Koseva in Sofia February 24, 2021

Government bows to pressure from hospitality industry and hopes for pre-election feelgood boost just as a new wave of the virus gathers force.

Moldovan Constitutional Court thwarts President Sandu’s bid to force early elections

Iulian Ernst February 24, 2021

Court says Sandu can’t re-appoint Natalia Gavrilita as PM-designate after her choice was voted down by the parliament, where the rival Socialists now have a majority.

Hidroelectrica becomes Romania's most profitable company ahead of potential IPO

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 24, 2021

Hidroelectrica replaced oil and gas group OMV Petrom as the country's most profitable company, reporting a 5% rise in net profit to almost €300mn in 2020.

Amnesty International rescinds Alexey Navalny’s prisoner of conscience status due to past “hate speech” comments

bne IntelliNews February 24, 2021

The human rights organisation Amnesty International rescinded its decision to grant “prisoner of conscience” status to jailed anti-corruption activist and opposition politician Alexei Navalny due to his previous "hate speech" remarks.

Russia’s coronavirus epidemic in retreat

bne IntelliNews February 24, 2021

Russia recorded less than 100,000 new weekly coronavirus cases last week for the first time since October. While the situation is improving the pandemic is not over, but the spread of the virus is slowing rapidly.

Zelenskiy steps up his assault on the oligarchs as ex-Privatbank CEO named as fraud suspect

Ben Aris in Berlin February 23, 2021

After doing nothing about the $5.5bn that former PrivatBank owner Ihor Kolomoisky allegedly stole from his bank, Ukraine has named Oleksandr Dubilet as a fraud suspect.

Putin, Lukashenko meet for six hours of intensive talks in Sochi

Ben Aris in Berlin February 23, 2021

This was the second time the two presidents had met in Sochi since Belarus was plunged into its worst political crisis of Lukashenko’s 26 years in office following the disputed August 9 presidential elections.

North Macedonia’s ex-secret police chief shows up after search drama

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 23, 2021

Speculation in North Macedonia over whether Saso Mijalkov's disappearance ahead of court verdict was just a prank or something more complex.

Sanctioned Ukrainian opposition leader's wife enters politics

bne IntelliNews February 23, 2021

Oksana Marchenko says she will go into politics for "the protection of the Ukrainian people”, as Zelenskiy's campaign against the oligarchs gathers momentum.

Police grab Georgia’s opposition leader after storming barricaded party offices

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 23, 2021

Move comes after new PM is appointed and declares: “We categorically refuse any negotiations on a snap election! This issue is closed!” Predecessor resigned five days ago saying move to detain UNM head would exacerbate divisions in country.

Political row in Turkey as opposition asks 'What happened to the $128bn in FX reserves?'

bne IntelIiNews February 22, 2021

Economist, meanwhile, warns any major distress in securing required foreign funds to repay huge foreign debt and finance big current account deficit “might send the lira tumbling anew”.

North Macedonia’s ex-secret police chief flees days before final court verdict

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 22, 2021

Police have issued an international arrest warrant for Saso Mijalkov, a cousin of North Macedonia's fugitive former prime minister Nikola Gruevski.