Belarus’s Election Campaign: The Calm Before the Storm? (The Jamestown Foundation)

The end of June marked the beginning of a (likely brief) respite in Belarus’s presidential election campaign, but it may prove to be the lull before the storm.

Murders of Chechen Refugees in Europe Become Increasingly Frequent (The Jamestown Foundation)

Another critic of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow ruler Ramzan Kadyrov was killed in Austria. On the evening of July 4, the man was shot in the head and died in a parking lot next to a shopping center in the Vienna suburb of Gerasdorf. Initially, reports said that the target was a Russian asylum seeker. Austrian police intercepted the suspected murderer in the city of Linz, about a two-hour drive from the Austrian capital (Kurier, July 4).

Latent Russian Dissatisfaction: On the Explicit and Hidden Implications of Putin’s Constitutional Reform (The Jamestown Foundation)

The newly approved amendments to the Russian constitution went into force on July 4. The night before, President Vladimir Putin signed the relevant executive order. According to official data, in the elections, which took place on July 1, the amendments received the support of 77.92 percent of voters, with a turnout of 67.97 percent (RIA Novosti, July 2).

Could the ‘Norilsk Disaster’ Be the Harbinger of a Looming Catastrophe in the Russian Arctic? (Part Two) (The Jamestown Foundation)

A disastrous fuel spill at the CHPP-3 combined heat and power plant in Norilsk (owned and operated by the Norilsk Nickel Group) has resulted in massive contamination of the local environment and will likely incur huge financial expenditures related to the cleanup (Interfax, May 29; see Part One in EDM, June 29).

Igor Dodon, Moldova’s Strawman Dictator (Part Two) (The Jamestown Foundation)

Unlike Moldova’s former de facto ruler, Vladimir Plahotniuc (or president Vladimir Voronin before that), President Igor Dodon seems to have no intention and certainly lacks the capacity to institute a “power vertical.”

Igor Dodon, Moldova’s Strawman Dictator (Part One) (The Jamestown Foundation)

Moldova’s russophile head of state, Igor Dodon, has been driven onto the defensive, along with his Socialist Party and the Socialist-led government, by their political opponents on several fronts

Vladimir Putin: Russia’s Eternal Leader (The Jamestown Foundation)

On January 15, 2020, during an annual address to a joint session of both houses of parliament, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a process of constitutional reforms (see EDM, January 1620), which officially concluded with a national referendum, held on June 25–July 1

The CCP Politburo Holds Its First Collective Study Session for 2020 (The Jamestown Foundation)

On May 29, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo held its first “collective study” (集体学习, jiti xuexi) session for the year 2020. It is unusual that the first of these events took place only near the mid-point of the year: in recent years, these Politburo political study sessions have been convened either monthly or on alternate months, with an average occurrence of 8 times per year

Fighting the Battle for the Pandemic Narrative: The PRC White Paper on Its COVID-19 Response (The Jamestown Foundation)

On June 7, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) State Council Information Office (国务院新闻办公室, Guowuyuan Xinwen Bangongshi) released an official white paper outlining China’s response to the COVID-19 crisis (Xinhua, June 7). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the document, titled Fighting COVID-19 – China in Action (抗击新冠肺炎疫情的中国行动, Kangji Xinguan Feiyan Yiqing de Zhongguo Xingdong), is a clear articulation as to how the authorities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hope to control and shape the narratives surrounding their own role in the state response to the virus. Key themes in the report are unsurprising; however, the timeline articulated by the State Council leaves serious questions about the origin of the virus and its initial beginnings

The COVID-19 Pandemic Boosts Sino-Russian Cooperation (The Jamestown Foundation)

The immediate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Sino-Russian relations has been to weaken the social and economic ties between the two states. Similar to circumstances in other countries, their cross-border economic exchanges have abruptly shrunk