Neil Buckley

Georgia's former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili arrives for questioning at an Interior Ministry building on December 7 (IRAKLI GEDENIDZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili arrives for questioning on December 7 (IRAKLI GEDENIDZE/AFP/Getty)

A spate of arrests and investigations of members of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili’s party since the October election victory of billionaire premier Bidzina Ivanishvili is causing a headache for western officials over how to respond.

On the face of it, the legal campaign seems to follow the typical winner-take-all logic of elections in post-Soviet states. It looks similar to how Mr Saakashvili’s government treated former associates of his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze. It also looks rather like the Ukrainian authorities’ pursuit under president Viktor Yanukovich of former premier Yulia Tymoshenko and her allies. Read more

Neil Buckley

Georgia’s first parliament session on Sunday since the shock election victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili was a slightly sour affair. But three weeks into the country’s latest democratic experiment, the worst fears of western capitals have not been realised – though a worrying clash may loom over Georgia’s central bank governor. Read more

Neil Buckley

Amid the somewhat rancorous debate over whether it was right to award the Nobel peace price to the European Union, it is worth bearing in mind the view of those countries still aspiring to join.

Vesna Pusic, foreign minister of Croatia – which, provided all 27 EU members ratify its entry agreement, should become the 28th next July – tells a story of why, for all its flaws and current economic crisis, the Union still matters a lot in the Balkans.

Take five generations of women in her family: her great grandmother, grandmother, mother, herself, and her 26-year-old daughter.

“All of them were born in the same city. And the ones who died, died also in the same city. However, none of us will have been born and died in the same state,” says Ms Pusic. Read more

Neil Buckley

Ukrainian opposition activists clash with riot police on July 4. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages

Ukrainian opposition activists clash with riot police on July 4. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages

Barely had supporters’ chants at the Euro 2012 final in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday died out, before politics as usual returned to Ukraine. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning have seen violent clashes between riot police and demonstrators protesting against a law that would upgrade the role of the Russian language in the former Soviet state.

The law was rammed through parliament in a second reading at short notice on Tuesday, after being similarly rammed through a first reading a month ago – just before Euro 2012. It now needs only to be signed by president Viktor Yanukovich to take effect. Read more

Neil Buckley

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/GettyImages)

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins / AFP/ GettyImages)

Visiting Latvia on Thursday, Hillary Clinton praised the Baltic state for taking “very difficult” austerity measures that would ensure a “stable, prosperous future”.

The US secretary of state is not the only high-profile figure praising Latvia’s economic record.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, dropped in this month and proclaimed its austerity programme an “inspiration” for heavily-indebted eurozone countries.

Latvia and its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Lithuania suffered the world’s steepest economic contractions in 2009 amid swingeing austerity measures. But now they find themselves in the frontline of the debate over austerity versus growth as the best way to tackle the eurozone’s debt problems. Read more

Neil Buckley

In Russia, the music of Viktor Tsoi, a rock star who died young in 1990, is being played again. That is not just testament to how good it was, writes the FT’s Neil Buckley. With Russians once again protesting on the streets demanding greater democracy, the Tsoi resurgence highlights that history is, in part, repeating itself. Read more

Neil Buckley

Why has Russia blocked tougher sanctions against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad at the United Nations, laying itself open to accusations that it is propping up a dictator and thwarting efforts to stop the violence in Syria?

Communication is often not Moscow’s strong point. But Alexei Pushkov, the smooth chairman of the Russian Duma’s foreign affairs committee, gave a lengthy and combative answer to that question at a London briefing this week. Read more

Neil Buckley

Police officers detain an opposition activist during a banned anti-Kremlin protest in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, May 31. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Police detain an opposition activist during a banned anti-Kremlin protest on May 31. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Soviet-watchers called it “whataboutism”. This was the Communist-era tactic of deflecting foreign criticism of, say, human rights abuses, by pointing, often disingenuously, at something allegedly similar in the critic’s own country: “Ah, but what about…?”

As several former Soviet republics drift back towards authoritarian ways, whataboutism is making a comeback. For a Briton, it is difficult to talk to Ukrainian officials about the questionable seven-year jailing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko without getting a lecture on the prison terms meted out to several British MPs for expenses fraud.

Now, it seems, Dmitry Peskov, the wily press secretary of Russian president Vladimir Putin, has succumbed. Read more

Neil Buckley

A still from the BBC Panorama documentary Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate. BBC/PA Wire

A still from BBC Panorama's 'Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate'. BBC/PA Wire

These are sensitive times in Poland.

Polish media spent most of Tuesday in hand-wringing outrage over a BBC Panorama documentary highlighting the problems of football-related racist violence in both Poland and Ukraine – little over a week before they host the Euro 2012 championships. Read more

Neil Buckley

The pro-democracy protests since December’s disputed parliamentary elections are hopeful for Russia’s long-term future. Here, at last, is an economic middle class finally demanding a proper say in their country’s governance, legal protections for their families and property, and an end to pernicious corruption. Sociologists have forecast this for years – sometimes more in hope than conviction.

But in the shorter term, the shifts under way in Russia that the demonstrations highlight do not bode well for economic policy and stability. Vladimir Putin’s return as president after Sunday’s election will usher in Russia’s most uncertain period since before his first presidency in 2000. Read more