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IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

Amidst Fraud Allegations, Czech Justice Minister Appointment Sparks Nationwide Outcry

Recent events have thrown the independence of the Czech judiciary into doubt and controversy. Only one day after official allegations were launched against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for his involvement in a nearly 50 million euro scandal of EU funding fraud, Czech Justice Minister Jan Kněžínek unexpectedly stepped down with no reasoning as to why. Directly following the Justice Minister’s resignation, Prime Minister Babiš proposed Marie Benešová to the post, a current advisor and political ally of Czech President Miloš Zeman.

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Czech President Zeman Visits China, Signaling Deepening Relations Between the Two Regions

Czech President Milos Zeman will visit China on Wednesday, Apr. 24 to attend the Second Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing. President Zeman’s visit to China signals rising developments between the two countries and the region of Central and Eastern Europe, in light of China’s recent moves to solidify connections to the countries of the European region.

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Shell Leaves Partnership with Gazprom in Russian-based Baltic LNG Project

Developments on Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019 revealed that British-Dutch oil and gas company Shell will no longer be moving forward with the Baltic Liquified-Natural Gas (LNG) Project with Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom. The Baltic LNG Project was initiated between the two companies in mid-2016 as a joint effort to produce over 10 million tons of LNG in the Leningrad region. Following an official announcement made on behalf of the Baltic LNG Project on Mar. 29, 2019 concerning the project’s final development phases, no mention was made of Shell within the context of the plans for continuation.

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The Polish Paradox: Christian Migrant Influx Amidst Conservative Anti-Immigration Politics

As national elections approach later this year, Poland faces much controversy and division over the country’s entrenched conservative stance and ideals. The present ruling power the Law and Justice Party, also known as PiS, has actively spread a platform of staunch traditionalist and Christian values since its rise to prominence in 2015. However, as its European Union neighbors increasingly favor more progressive politics, Poland confronts a widening gulf at home between those favoring the Christian fundamentalism driving the country’s leadership and those aiming to introduce more diversity and forward-looking politics into the agenda.

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U.S. Sanctions Russia’s Evrofinance Mosnarbank in Ongoing Disputes Over Venezuela

On Monday, Mar. 11, the United States Treasury Department launched new sanctions against Russian-based bank Evrofinance Mosnarbank. The bank is notoriously linked to supporting the Nicolas Maduro regime in present control of Venezuela and represents a crucial tie between the governments in Moscow and Caracas. Evrofinance stands as yet another figure in the ongoing standoff between Russia and the United States.

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Bulgarian Central Bank Deputy Resigns Amidst Eurozone Ascension Process

On Friday, March 1 Dimitar Kostov, the Bulgarian Central Bank Deputy Governor, announced his unexpected formal resignation from the post. Kostov, a key figure in Bulgaria’s impending transition into the Eurozone, had reportedly attempted to step down earlier last year but held off amidst Bulgaria’s ongoing negotiations with the EU regarding its financial ascendance into the European Banking Union. The resignation abruptly comes midway through a six-year term committed to in 2015, and leaves Bulgaria still underway in European Central Bank reviews to join the Eurozone.

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Russian Detainment of U.S.-Born Investor Strikes Fear Into Russian Financial World

U.S. born investor Michael Calvey was recently detained in Russia on accusations of embezzlement and fraud in connection to Calvey’s private equity firm Baring Vostok Capital Partners. Calvey founded Baring Vostok in Russia in 1994, with the company allegedly having injected upwards of $3.7 billion into the Russian economy over the years. Given Baring Vostok’s significant stakeholder position in the Russian economy, the allegations facing Calvey and five other business affiliates create a wary uncertainty for other foreign investors and financiers in the country, unsettling prospects of future financial security in Russia.

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Visegrad Group Summit in Israel Cancelled Amidst Holocaust Controversy

A summit of the Visegrad Group, commonly known as the V-4, slated to take place beginning on Monday, Feb. 18, was canceled amongst diplomatic uproar surrounding the Holocaust.  The V-4 summit was set to occur in Israel and to be hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Following public remarks made by Prime Minister Netanyahu that unabashedly recognized Polish collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War, Poland rescinded its participation. The other member states of the V-4-- Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia-- who notably make up a nexus of rising nationalist sentiment, xenophobia, and antisemitism in Europe, will no longer be in formal attendance of the group summit in Israel.

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