France blocks launch of EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje October 19, 2019

Fears among EU officials postponing the decision on membership talks yet again will increase Russian, Turkish and Chinese influence in the fragile Western Balkans region.

New players pour $2bn into Russian crab auctions

bne IntelliNews October 18, 2019

Russian authorities have held auctions for crab fishing quotas, raising RUB99.5bn ($1.5bn) for the auctions in the North basin and RUB42.8bn for the Far East basin.

Driverless cars of Russian Yandex hit 1mn miles mileage mark

bne IntelliNews October 18, 2019

Driverless vehicles developed by Russian internet major Yandex have hit 1mn miles of test drive mileage in Russia, the US, and Israel, the company announced on October 17, and confirming previous reports by bne IntelliNews.

Putin's trust rating slips again but popularity remains high

Ben Aris in Berlin October 18, 2019

The Russian leader's "trust rating" has fallen again. It was down to 39% in September from 40% in June, after a summer of violent protests over the Moscow City election that saw unprecedented police brutality, says the Levada Center.

Ukraine pushes ahead with legislative agenda as Privatbank case delayed again

bne IntelliNews October 18, 2019

Despite the growing scandal surrounding oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky’s attempts to denationalise Privatbank, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada pushed ahead with its hectic legislative programme and passed more pro-reform laws.

Slovak financial administration uncovered the biggest illegal factory in central Europe

Nelly Tomchikova in Prague October 18, 2019

The Slovak Financial Administration has uncovered the biggest illegal cigarette producing factory in central Europe in Slovakia, according to its press release from October 16.

TURKEY INSIGHT: Financial markets unofficially suspended, foreign investors shoved out of picture as Syria tension mounts

Akin Nazli in Belgrade October 17, 2019

Liquidity has dried up. Analyst says “situation smacks of capital controls”, adding: “I'm not sure I see how another FX crisis in Turkey is avoided”.

IMF improves Ukraine’s 2019 growth outlook to 2.99%, below the 3% needed to trigger warrant payments

bne IntelliNews October 17, 2019

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) improved Ukraine’s growth outlook slightly from 2.7% for the full year set in April to 3% in its latest World Economic Outlook, released this week.

Erdogan ‘binned’ Trump’s ‘locker-room banter’ letter on Syria

bne IntelliNews October 17, 2019

Reportedly infuriated by lines including “Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!” Turkish strongman said to have chucked it in the trash before launching his military offensive the same day.

Aeroflot's lowcoster Pobeda, fastest growing but could hike prices on flights to Russia

Vadim Dumes in Paris October 17, 2019

Russia’s budget Pobeda airline, a subsidiary of Russian national air carrier Aeroflot, is the fastest growing airline in Europe and wants to boost prices for flights to Russia, Vedomosti daily reported.

Czech R&D posted record growth of €500mn in 2018 to €3.9bn

Nelly Tomchikova in Prague October 17, 2019

Czech R&D expenditures grew by CZK12.3bn (€447.5mn) year-on-year to a record CZK102.8bn (€3.9bn) in 2018, accounting to 1.93% of GDP, stems from data published by the Czech Statistical Office (CSO) on October 16.

Hungarian mayor in sex tape scandal quits Orban's Fidesz

Levente Szilagyi in Budapest October 16, 2019

Borkai clings on as mayor of Gyor in local elections by few hundred votes. Analysts say scandal was only tipping point for many voters, who dealt ruling party some big defeats.

Ukraine’s last chance to fulfil Minsk accords is in November Prystaiko says

bne IntelliNews October 16, 2019

The last chance to fulfil the Minsk II accords will come in November according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko in comments made to Reuters on October 14.

Russian businesses’ lack of trust in government holding back crucial investment says finance minister Siluanov

Ben Aris in Berlin October 15, 2019

Underinvestment is putting a brake on Russia’s growth, but the problem’s not a lack of cash, it’s Russian business people not trusting the government, according to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

Zelenskiy's approval ratings fall as his government gets bogged down in multiple crises

Ben Aris in Berlin October 15, 2019

The tidal wave of public support that swept the new Ukrainian president and his party Servant of the People into power this year is starting to subside.

Ukraine's PrivatBank wins London case blocking oligarch Kolomoisky from unfreezing $2bn in assets

Ben Aris in Berlin October 15, 2019

Assets were seized as part of lender’s efforts to recover $7.2bn looted under old ownership. Bank now free to pursue lawsuit claiming fraud on a massive scale in which shell companies owned by shareholders emptied it of money.

VW delays decision on Turkey car plant citing reputational risk due to Syria offensive

bne IntelliNews October 15, 2019

Move may unsettle Turkish president Erdogan who has taken a personal interest in securing the investment, even ordering officials to switch to Passat cars.

Belarusian supermarket chain Eurotorg reports 5% increase in sales to $1.2bn in 6M19

bne IntelliNews October 15, 2019

The biggest supermarket chain in Belarus Eurotorg (aka Euroopt) reported that sales were up 11.9% year-on-year to BYN2.4bn in local currency terms and up 5.1% y/y to $1.2bn in dollar equivalent in the first six months of this year.

Vote counting in Kosovo election suspended after ballot papers suspected laced with chemical agent

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest October 15, 2019

Vote counting has been suspended in Kosovo, Radio Free Europe informed, after 26 Central Election Commission (CEC) officials sought medical help for the allergic reaction occurred after opening five ballot boxes from Serbia.

Citigroup Russia markets CEO departs as Wall Street retreats in Moscow

Jason Corcoran in Moscow October 14, 2019

Alexei Bolshakov, Citigroup’s Head of Russian Equities and Chief Executive of its local Global Markets division, has left the bank as Wall Street accelerates its retreat in Moscow, bne IntelliNews can reveal.