News Timeline: Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics 2009


January 1: Russia

Russia stops gas supplies to Ukraine after talks on a new contract reach impasse over gas prices and Ukraine’s unpaid bills. Both Russia and Ukraine assure that the supplies of gas to Europe will not be disrupted. Europe imports more than 40 percent of its gas from Russia, which most of it is transported through the Ukrainian territory. (January 7): Russia halts all gas supplies through Ukraine, accusing the country of siphoning gas meant for Europe. The move causes unease in many European countries, especially in those that import more than 80 percent of their gas from Russia. (January 14): The European Union threatens Russian and Ukrainian gas companies with legal action if they do not restore gas supplies soon. Some European countries, such as Bulgaria, have been hit hard by shortages of gas in one of the coldest winters, closing schools and other public buildings. (January 19): Russia and Ukraine sign a 10-year gas deal, bringing the dispute to an end. The incident, however, has undermined Russia’s reputation as a reliable supplier of gas.

January 19: Russia

Russia’s prominent human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and a young journalist Anastasia Baburova are gunned down in the center of Moscow. Markelov was known for taking high-profile human rights cases. Right before his murder, Markelov held a press conference where he announced his intent to appeal Colonel Budanov’s early release from prison who murdered a teenage Chechen girl.

February 17: Russia

Russia and China sign a $26 billion energy agreement. According to the deal, in return for lending $15 billion to the Russian state oil company Rosneft and $10 billion the pipeline company Transneft, China will receive 300,000 barrels of oil every day for the next 20 years. For China, this deal is an effort to diversify its oil imports from the Middle East.

Marc 17: Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev unveils a comprehensive military rearmament and modernization plan beginning in 2011. During the time leading to 2011, Russia plans to purchase $140 billion worth of arms.

March 30: Russia

A prominent former Chechen separatist leader and an opponent of the pro-Russian Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, Sulim Yamadayev, is assassinated in the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Dubai. He is the fourth prominent Chechen to be killed in recent months. President Kadyrov has been accused of systematic elimination of his opponents.

April 5: Moldova

Moldova announces that the ruling Communist Party wins parliamentary elections with 50 percent of the votes. The opposition center-right Liberal Party wins 13 percent, while the Liberal Democratic Party 12 percent. Most people in the breakaway Transdniester region boycotted the elections. The new parliament will appoint a new president. The incumbent president and the leader of the communists, Vladimir Voronin, is expected to step down after serving the maximum two terms. (April 7): Opposition-backed protesters attack the parliament building and the presidential office in the capital of Chisinau, protesting the election results and accusing the government of electoral fraud. (April 12): Moldova’s Constitutional Court orders a recount of the election results. (April 17): The recount confirms the previous results. The opposition does not accept the recount, saying that it was not allowed to see the electoral lists. President Voronin blames the unrest on Romania’s meddling and expels the Romanian ambassador.

April 21: Tajikistan/ Kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan agrees to allow the United States to use the country’s roads and rails to transport non-military supplies coming from Uzbekistan for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The new option comes after Kyrgyzstan closed the Manas airbase, the only U.S. military base in Central Asia.

May 6 Georgia/Russia

Georgia is hosting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercises at the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi. More than 1,000 soldiers from 13 countries arrive for the training. Russia is protesting the exercises, calling the event “an overt provocation.”

May 12: Russia

Russia and Japan sign a nuclear agreement that will provide Russia with Japanese technology and Japan with nuclear fuel. Both sides also vow to work on resolving the territorial dispute of islands called the Northern Territories by Japan and the Southern Kurils by Russia.

May 26: Georgia

On Georgia’s independence day, more than 50,000 supporters of the opposition gather in the country’s capital, Tbilisi, demanding President Mikhail Saakashvili’s resignation. His former ally, Nino Burjanadze, who now leads an opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia, has led daily protests since April, accusing Saakasvhili of mismanaging the last year’s war with Russia and hampering democracy.

June 3: Moldova

Moldova’s parliament fails to elect a president for the second time. The Communists were short of one vote to elect their candidate, with the opposition boycotting the vote and insisting on canceling the April’s elections. According to the constitution, the parliament now has to dissolve itself and call new parliamentary elections.

June 22: Russia

The pro-Russian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov of Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia is injured in the suicide assassination attack carried out by Muslim separatists. This attack is one of many recent violent assaults in Ingushetia. The attack is a major blow for Russia, which has put efforts to keep stability in Northern Caucasus.

June 25: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan changes its previous decision to allow the United States to continue using the Manas airbase after the U.S. tripled its rent offer. The base, however, can be used only for non-combat supplies. The Manas base in Kyrgyzstan is the U.S. only base in Central Asia.

July 15: Russia

Russian human rights activist, Natalia Estemirova, is kidnapped and killed in the Russian North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya. Her body was found in the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia. She investigated human rights abuses, including kidnappings and killings by Russian troops and Chechen militias. Although in April Russia declared the end of counter-terrorist operations in Chechnya, recent violence that left dozens killed and spread to neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia, shows that the Islamist insurgency has not been defeated.

August 18: Georgia

Georgia officially leaves the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), created after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, after the conflict with Russia over South Ossetia last year. The move further weakens the already weak organization, where other members still refuse to sign the agreement that created the CIS.

October 20: Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pays an official visit to Serbia, where he approves a $1.5 billion loan for the country. The loan will cover Serbia’s deficit and investment in infrastructure. Russia and Serbia are traditional allies, who focus on strategic cooperation such as the South Stream gas pipeline, which will bypass Ukraine and bring natural gas from Russia to Europe through Serbia.