First Online Demonstration in History, EBRD Funds Russian Company, Latvia Targets Money Laundering Scheme
Monitoring stories that go unnoticed
While Covid-19 takes all the headlines, deals are made and laws are passed, with hardly anyone noticing. Many will change our lives for years or forever. UnderCovid keeps track of these stories. Daily.
9 April 2020
Vox, a far-right party in Spain, organized the “first online demonstration” in history in the form of a television program aired on YouTube. The program attracted a total of 400,000 viewers. Their ask was “Government resignation.”
Two weeks after coronavirus measures were introduced in Slovakia, the Trend business weekly fired 25% of its editorial staff. Trend’s publisher, News and Media Holding, said that the decline in its advertising incomes was the reason for the firing. However, it seems that mostly the reporters critical of Penta financial group, the company that owns Trend, got the boot.
EBRD approved financial support for Travelata, a Russian travel aggregator. It is the first since 2014 when EBRD is giving funding to a Russian company. In 2014, Western sanctions were imposed on Russia following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by the Russian forces.
Foreign investors sold Russian government bonds worth more than US$ 3.5bn in March during the panic caused by the spread of the coronavirus.
Ozon, a Russian e-commerce company, pulled in US$ 150m in financing, one of the largest tech investment deals concluded with Western backers since 2013. The money came from the Moscow-based private equity firm Baring Vostok, a corporate venture capital fund run by Russian conglomerate Sistema, and the U.S. venture capital firm Princeville Capital.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Zentiva Group completed the acquisition of the operations of the American-owned Alvogen in Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and several other countries.
Investigations run by Libertatea, a Romanian media outlet, found that Romanian carers are flown to Austria during the pandemic. The publication writes that several recruitment agencies benefit financially from this deal. Ironically, hundreds of Romanian carers lost their jobs when the pandemic struck and were stuck in Austria because they could not travel back home. The Romanian carers are flown by private Austrian Airlines jets.
Criminal proceedings were launched against a group of persons who are accused of attempting to launder more than €7m of illicit funds using several companies registered in Latvia, Belarus, Russia and Austria.
At the end of March 2020, Latvia’s State Security Service (VDD) initiated a criminal prosecution against an individual related to offensive comments published on Facebook about deportations to Siberia under Soviet occupation.
Moldova’s prime minister Ion Chicu accused the leader of Our Party, Renato Usatîi, of trying to stop supplies needed to combat the Covid-19 in Moldova. Usatîi claims that the current government gives a preferential treatment to supplies from China.
The Moldovan president Igor Dodon has been accused that he applied in June 2019 for a foreign country citizenship, which he later got. That move was part of Dodon’s alleged plan to flee Moldova for good.
Accusations have been floated by a former official who says that people in Moldova’s governing coalition are trying to bury the investigation into the theft of US$ 1bn from Moldova’s banks back in 2014.
The European Commission approved the acquisition of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) by the Netherlands-based telecommunications and media company United Group, which is owned by U.K. private equity firm BC Partners.
Poland is summoned to immediately suspend the powers of Disciplinary Chamber of Polish Supreme Court, which was created to discipline judges, according to a ruling by the European Union’s top court.
Poland’s prime minister unveiled plans to throw a lifeline worth at least PLN 100bn (€22bn) to businesses hit by the coronavirus epidemic.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
The office of the NGO Transparency International in Bosnia and Herzegovina has called on Zeljka Cvijanovic, President of the Serb-led entity Republika Srpska, to withdraw a decree that bans the spread of panic during a state of emergency, which came into force last Tuesday.
Parties to the Donbas settlement negotiations part of the Trilateral Contact Group reached an agreement on the mutual release of held persons.The following prisoner swap is slated to take place before Easter.
The Russian-owned gas monopoly Gazprom prevented several European companies from receiving gas at the Ukraine-Russia border for its further delivery to Europe via Ukraine.
László Szabó, Hungary’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., is leaving his post, after he was hired by a private company. Szabó is a physician with years of experience in multinational drugmakers in countries around the world.
Hungarian-owned oil and gas company MOL expects its 2020 CAPEX to be “at least 25% lower” than the original guidance of US$ 1.9bn- US$ 2.1bn, mainly as a result of delayed non-essential investments.
Consumer prices in Hungary grew by 3.9% on average in March on a year-on-year comparison, according to data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH) in Budapest.
Paul Leonard Fox has been appointed the United Kingdomʼs Ambassador to Hungary. He follows Iain Lindsay who is retiring from the Diplomatic Service. Fox will start his work in Budapest in September 2020.
Browse through older UnderCovid editions:
UnderCovid 8 April 2020
UnderCovid 7 April 2020
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