Latvia Prime Minister Wins Election

The center-right New Unity party of Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins won Saturday’s election, according to provisional results, with its 19% of the vote putting him in a position to head another coalition government. The results — with 91% of districts counted — mean Latvia should remain a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia in pushing the European Union for a decisive stance against Russia. Karins’ party was again the party with the most support following the election. Members of the current coalition were on track to receive 42 seats in the 100-seat parliament, so Karins needs to draft additional allies to stay as a prime minister. As many as nine parties won sufficient votes to gain seats in parliament. After a campaign dominated by security concerns …

Bosnia Heads to Polls as Ethnic Tensions Dominate Vote

Bosnians headed to the polls Sunday to vote in general elections following a campaign season marked by threats of secession, political infighting, and fears of future turmoil as ethnic tensions in the country grow. Voters are casting ballots in a dizzying number of contests, including for the three members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, the deputies of the central parliament and a string of local races. Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (5:00 GMT). Nearly three decades after war ravaged the Balkan country, Bosnia continues to be burdened by its ethnic divisions. The Balkan state has been governed by a dysfunctional administrative system created by the 1995 Dayton Agreement that succeeded in ending the conflict in the 1990s, but largely failed in providing a framework for the country’s political development. …

Bulgarians Hold 4th Election in 18 Months Amid Turmoil

Bulgarians on Sunday cast their ballots in a general election — the fourth in 18 months — marked by a raging war nearby, political instability, and economic hardships in the European Union’s poorest member. Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT). First exit poll results will be announced after polls close at 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) and preliminary results are expected Monday. Surveys ahead of the vote suggest that up to eight parties could muster the 4% threshold to enter a fragmented parliament where populist and pro-Russia groups could increase their representation. Following a lame campaign, turnout is expected to be low due to voters’ apathy and disillusionment with politicians unable to cobble together a viable government coalition. The early election comes after a fragile coalition led by pro-Western …

Nobel Prize Season Arrives Amid War, Nuclear Fears, Hunger

This year’s Nobel Prize season approaches as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe and raised the risks of a nuclear disaster. The secretive Nobel committees never hint who will win the prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics or peace. It’s anyone’s guess who might win the awards being announced starting Monday. Yet there’s no lack of urgent causes deserving the attention that comes with winning the world’s most prestigious prize: Wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, disruptions to supplies of energy and food, rising inequality, the climate crisis, the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The science prizes reward complex achievements beyond the understanding of most. But the recipients of the prizes in peace and literature are often known by a global audience …

Danes: Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Seems to Have Stopped Leaking

The Danish Energy Agency says one of two ruptured natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea appears to have stopped leaking natural gas. The agency said on Twitter on Saturday that it had been informed by the company operating the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that pressure appears to have stabilized in the pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany. “This indicates that the leaking of gas in this pipeline has ceased,” the Danish Energy Agency said. Undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream I and 2 pipelines this week have led to huge methane leaks. Nordic investigators said the blasts have involved several hundred pounds of explosives. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built pipelines, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and …

EU Leaders to Discuss Infrastructure Following Incidents on Russian Pipelines

European Union leaders will discuss the security of crucial infrastructure when they meet in Prague next week following damage to the Nord Stream pipelines that many in the West have said was caused by sabotage. “Sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines is a threat to the EU,” Charles Michel, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said in a tweet Saturday after talks with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Brussels. “We are determined to secure our critical infrastructure. Leaders will address this at the upcoming summit in Prague,” he wrote. The leaders of EU member states leaders are scheduled to meet in the Czech capital on Friday. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also met with Frederiksen in Brussels “to address the sabotage” on the pipelines, he said on Twitter. “NATO allies …

Turkey’s Erdogan Renews Threat to Block NATO Bids by Sweden, Finland

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday renewed his threat to block the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland, saying he would not give his approval until the two Nordic countries kept promises he said were made to Ankara. “Until the promises made to our country are upheld, we will maintain our principled position,” Erdogan said in a speech to parliament in Ankara.   “We are closely following whether the promises made by Sweden and Finland are kept or not, and of course, the final decision will be up to our great parliament,” he added without elaboration. Ankara initially said it would veto the two countries’ membership in the Western alliance, with Erdogan accusing them of providing havens for Kurdish militants operating in Turkey and for promoting what he called …

Bosnia Goes to the Polls as Ethnic Divisions Grow

With ethnic divisions growing deeper, Bosnia will hold general elections Sunday amid secession threats and fears of fresh political turmoil nearly three decades after war ravaged the Balkan nation.  The country is torn between secessionist Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats demanding greater autonomy, while Muslim Bosniaks calling for a more egalitarian state appear to be chasing little more than a pipedream.   For more than two decades, the impoverished Balkan state has been governed by a dysfunctional administrative system born out of the 1995 Dayton Agreement. And while the accords may have succeeded in ending the war in the 1990s, the country has withered amid political paralysis ever since. Analysts have warned that Bosnia is sinking ever deeper into troubled waters with divisions along ethnic lines appearing to grow even further …

Latvian PM’s New Unity Party Ahead in Vote, Exit Poll Shows

The center-right New Unity party of Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins was set to win Saturday’s national election, an exit poll showed, after a campaign dominated by security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If confirmed, the result should mean Latvia remains a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia in pushing the European Union for a decisive stance against Russia. But it could widen a rift between the country’s Latvian majority and its Russian-speaking minority over their place in society, amid widespread national anger over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. The first Latvian head of government to serve through a full four-year term, Karins, a 57-year-old dual U.S. and Latvian citizen, has benefited from his Moscow policy, which included restricting the entry of Russian citizens traveling from Russia …

How Displaced Ukrainians in Poland Find Work While Benefiting Its Economy

Poland, far from being overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians seeking refuge from Russia’s invasion of their country, is seeing its economy grow, according to economists. The latest available figures from early August show about half of the working-age people who fled Ukraine for Poland are now employed. In an interview with VOA, World Bank economist Reena Badiani-Magnusson, who specializes in the region, called the employment statistics for the temporarily displaced people, or TDPs, released by the Polish government “impressive.” Badiani-Magnusson quotes a National Bank of Poland study that found between 2013 and 2018, during the first wave of Ukrainian migration, the presence of Ukrainian migrants in the country had a .5% positive impact on growth. “On top of that, we’ve done some analysis of the current crisis, …

Latvia’s General Election Tests Loyalties of Ethnic-Russian Voters

Neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine helped shape the general election held Saturday in Latvia, where divisions among the Baltic country’s sizable ethnic-Russian minority are likely to influence the makeup of parliament and war-induced energy concerns will preoccupy the next government. Several polls showed the center-right New Unity party of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins emerging as the top vote-getter, with up to 20% support. Karins, who became head of Latvia’s government in January 2019, currently leads a four-party minority coalition that along with New Unity includes the center-right National Alliance, the centrist Development/For!, and the Conservatives. A total of 19 parties have over 1,800 candidates running in the election, but only around eight parties are expected to break through the 5% threshold required to secure a place in the 100-seat Saeima …

UK Train Strikes, Energy Hikes Add to Week of Turmoil

Trains in Britain all but ground to a halt Saturday as coordinated strikes by rail workers added to a week of turmoil caused by soaring energy prices and unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets. Only about 11% of train services were expected to operate across the U.K. Saturday, according to Network Rail. Unions said they called the latest in a series of one-day strikes to demand that wage increases keep pace with inflation that is expected to peak at around 11% this month. Consumers were also hit with a jump in their energy bills Saturday as the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes gas and electricity prices higher. Household bills are expected to rise by about 20%, even after the government stepped in to cap prices. Prime …

Turkish Minister Says Deadly Gun Attack Was ‘America-Based

Turkey’s interior minister Saturday described a gun attack that killed a police officer in the country’s south as an “America-based” operation. Two suspected Kurdish militants opened fire on security force lodgings in the Mediterranean province of Mersin late Monday, killing one officer and wounding a second officer and a civilian. The female attackers, who Turkish authorities said were affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, later killed themselves by detonating suicide bombs. “This action is an America-based action,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told ruling party officials in the Black Sea province of Giresun, according to the private Demiroren news agency and other outlets. Soylu also said U.S. authorities had requested the serial numbers of the firearms used in the attack from the Turkish police, without specifying which U.S. …

Turkey Rejects Russia’s Annexation of Ukrainian Territory

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law. Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It has also criticized. Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine. The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. “This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said. “We reiterate our support to …

Russia Accused of ‘Kidnapping’ Head of Ukraine Nuclear Plant

Ukraine’s nuclear power provider accused Russia on Saturday of “kidnapping” the head of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, a facility now occupied by Russian troops. Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. Friday, Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said. Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location. “His detention by (Russia) jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom President Petro Kotin said. Kotin demanded Russia immediately release Murashov. Russia did not immediately acknowledge seizing the plant director. The Zaporizhzhia plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian technicians continued running it after Russian troops seized the power station. The plant’s …

Nicaragua Breaks Off Ties With Netherlands, Bars New US Envoy

The government of Nicaragua broke off diplomatic relations with the Netherlands on Friday over accusations of interventionism, hours after it said it would deny entry to the new U.S. ambassador because of his “interfering” attitude. “Nicaragua, faced with the repeated meddling, interventionist and neocolonialist position of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that has offended… with threats and suspensions of works for the common good, communicates to the Government of that country our decision to immediately discontinue diplomatic relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement Friday night. Earlier in the day, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former revolutionary,  had lashed out at the European nation after learning it would not fund a long-promised hospital. “Those who come to disrespect our people, our homeland, they should not appear again in Nicaragua. …

Latvian Leader’s Party Expected To Fare Well In Election

Polling stations opened Saturday in Latvia for a general election influenced by neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine, disintegration among the Baltic country’s sizable ethnic-Russian minority and the economy, particularly high energy prices. Several polls showed the center-right New Unity party of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins emerging as the top vote-getter with up to 20% support. Karins, who became head of Latvia’s government in January 2019, currently leads a four-party minority coalition that along with New Unity includes the center-right National Alliance, the centrist Development/For!, and the Conservatives. Support for parties catering to the ethnic-Russian minority that makes up over 25% of Latvia’s 1.9 million population is expected to be mixed; some loyal voters have abandoned them — for various reasons — since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. A total …

Dining in the Dark: Brussels Eateries Tackle Energy Crunch

While European Union nations are still mulling a cap on gas prices, some businesses are more in a hurry for solutions to the continent’s energy crisis. In Brussels, the epicenter of the EU, restaurant owners have imagined how a future without gas and electricity would look like for gourmets. The guests at the dinner served at the Brasserie Surrealiste and cooked by Racines employees this week were the first to experience it: No ovens, no stoves, no hot plates, no coffee machines and no light bulbs. Still, great food. Just cold entrees, or slightly grilled over the flaming charcoal grill of a Japanese barbecue, served at candle-lit tables. “The idea is to go back to the cave age,” said Francesco Cury, the Racines owner. “We prepared a whole series of …

At UN, Russia, US Trade Barbs Over Nord Stream Damage

The United States and Russia traded barbs and accusations at a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday about the apparent sabotage to a major gas pipeline that Russia uses to supply Europe. Between Sept. 26 and 29, explosions caused four leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that run along the floor of the Baltic Sea. The United States, European Union, NATO and Russia all agree the damage and gas leaks point to sabotage, but they disagree about who is the likely perpetrator. Russia requested the Security Council meeting to discuss the pipeline incident. “It’s quite clear to us that carrying out of sabotage of such complexity and scale is beyond the power of ordinary terrorists,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said at the meeting. “We consider the actions to …