The roots of Moldovan corruption

Moldovans are still struggling to come to terms with last year’s massive banking fraud that almost bankrupted the tiny European country. The scandal has been blamed on venal politicians, but what has led to corruption becoming so endemic?more >

Energy-rich Iraqi Kurdistan’s financial troubles are threatening political upheavals

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq says a financial crisis has left it struggling to pay the salaries of Peshmerga fighters battling ISIL in the north of the country. Erbil’s economic problems have also fuelled political tensions which have threatened the stability of the territory. more >

Crimea struggles to attract investment as its economy worsens

The Crimean economy has deteriorated under the weight of sanctions and a blockade by Ukrainian militants. Moscow is committed to reviving the region’s fortunes, but it faces an uphill struggle.more >

Extractive industries anti-corruption initiative put to the test

An international effort to promote greater transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors has made significant progress since it was launched over a decade ago. But the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is now facing a major test of its commitment to its values.more >

Iranian reformers face hardline backlash over nuclear deal

The historic deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions is fueling a backlash from Iran’s hardliners keen to ensure that their dominant position within the country is not undermined by the deal. more >

Ukraine’s faltering peace plan running out of time?

The latest bid to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine is under threat amid an upsurge in ceasefire violations. But even before the outbreak of violence, the slow pace of the Minsk II peace plan had raised questions over whether the government in Kiev and the separatist authorities would meet the end-of-year implementation deadline.more >

Japan Joins China in Central Asia investment push

Japan has launched a big economic drive in Central Asia, just as China forges ahead with its ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt project that will see huge investment in the former Soviet republics. Could Tokyo’s move be an attempt to counter Beijing’s deepening involvement in the region?more >

Russia’s digital dissidents defy Kremlin crackdown

Having muzzled Russian broadcasters and newspapers, President Vladimir Putin appears determined to bring social media to heel. A raft of restrictive measures has been introduced over the last couple of years. How effective they will be remains to be seen. more >

Russia/Chinese alliance suffers economic strains

Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded his country’s growing strategic partnership with China on a visit to Beijing in September 2015. “Russian-Chinese ties have now reached a peak,” he told reporters at a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. And in many respects, Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have much to be pleased about. The two leaders get on very well, and military and security cooperation has reached unprecedented levels. more >

Ukraine: no early thaw in frozen conflict

While the West remains reluctant to confront Russia directly, Ukraine is unlikely to secure the levels of investment and support that it would like, writes Adrian Stones from the Yalta summit.more >

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