Communist Tax Lawyer

A news, research and discussion platform for monitoring the evolution of Communist and ex-Communist countries to market economies

 

Russia, U.S. Agree “95 Percent” on Nuclear Disarmament Treaty

January 25th, 2010

Russia and the United States are “95 percent” agreed on the terms of a disarmament treaty that would see the two largest nuclear powers each reduce their stockpile of nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675. The treaty would also reduce the number of vehicles capable of carrying these warheads to between 500 and 1,100.

“Everything in negotiations is going fine, 95 percent of the new deal’s issues have been agreed upon,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to Russian news agencies on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Government Steps Up as Google Backs Down

January 22nd, 2010

The fallout of the China Google drama picked up a notch yesterday, just as things seemed to be cooling off, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom ruffling some feathers in Beijing.

“Censorship should not be in any way accepted by any company from anywhere,” Clinton said yesterday in Washington. “American companies need to make a principled stand. This needs to be part of our national brand. I’m confident that consumers worldwide will reward companies that follow those principles.”

“Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” she said in words that clearly ring true in China. “They have expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech.” Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnam to Create World’s Largest Jade Buddha Sculpture

January 22nd, 2010

Vietnamese entrepreneur Dao Trong Cuong, owner of Than Chau Ngoc Viet (Vietnam’s Gemstone and Jewelry) Company, isn’t afraid to show off his wealth.

When a Vietnamese newspaper asked him why he chose to import a Hummer from the U.S. for US$300,000, Cuong simply said, “I like big, manly things.”

So, naturally, when a 35-ton jade stone was put on the market in Myanmar last year, Cuong purchased it for US$2 million with plans to make the world’s largest jade Buddha statue.

The stone, which currently stands 10 feet tall, 6 feet 6 inches wide, and 6 feet 6 inches deep, will retain its height, but is expected to be trimmed down to about 16 tons over the next two years while as many as 50 artists complete the sculpture. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tugrik is on the Rise and Mining may Resume in Mongolia

January 22nd, 2010

1 TugrikIn Mongolia, where no coins are used, the country’s national currency, the tugrik (or tögrög), has slowly been making a comeback due to massive deflation and significant revaluation against the U.S. dollar.

As such, the humble 1 tugrik banknote – the smallest currency denomination in Mongolia, worth roughly US$0.0007 – has re-entered the daily lives of Mongolia’s citizens after being virtually unusable in recent years.

In addition, an end to the impasse between the Mongolian government and the worlds mining corporations looms on the horizon, which would likely ensure that the country comes out of the recession in better shape than it went in. Read the rest of this entry »

Bulgarian and Kazakhstani Films Make Foreign Oscar Shortlist

January 21st, 2010

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have shortlisted nine foreign films, out of 65 contenders, for the prestigious Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards which will take place March 7, 2010 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California.

Although the nine will be whittled down to just five final nominees by February 2, among the nine shortlisted include Bulgaria’s, “The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner,” and Kazakhstan’s, “Kelin.”

If both films make the final cut, it would be the first Oscar nomination for a Bulgarian film and the second for Kazakhstan, after the country’s 2007 film, “Mogul.”

The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner Kelin

Here is the list of the final nine:

Argentina – “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”
Australia – “Samson & Delilah”
Bulgaria – “The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner”
France – “Un Prophète”
Germany – “The White Ribbon”
Israel – “Ajami”
Kazakhstan – “Kelin”
The Netherlands – “Winter in Wartime”
Peru – “The Milk of Sorrow”

North Korea Holding 200,000 Political Prisoners

January 21st, 2010

As many as 200,000 North Koreans are currently being held in deplorable conditions across six political prison camps throughout the country, according to a report issued yesterday by South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission.

Citizens are typically placed in the concentration camps without trial for anti-government comments and actions, or for attempting to defect.

The study, based on interviews with 371 North Korean defectors, including 17 former prisoners, describes life within the camps as a constant struggle for survival due to insufficient food, lack of medical assistance, and physical attacks.

Reports of torture, abuse, execution, and sexual harassment are prevalent within the camps.

The report suggests the political prisons are used to create fear, which is one of the most effective tactics used by the totalitarian regime to control its 24 million citizens.

To Protect Domestic Films, China Scales Back ‘Avatar’ Screenings

January 20th, 2010

AvatarChinese cinemas have confirmed that they are being told to stop showing the international blockbuster ‘Avatar’ in standard format starting as early as Thursday, a move that the media claims is an effort to give domestic films a fair chance at the profits.

‘Avatar’ will retain about one-third of its showings in the popular 3D format while the 2D version is likely to be replaced with the Chinese film, ‘Confucius,’ starring Chow Yun-Fat and Zhou Xun.

Despite being featured in approximately 2,500 theaters across China since its debut on January 4th, patrons are still waiting in line for hours to buy tickets to the international blockbuster, the New York Times reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Recession Expected to Continue through 2010 in Baltic Region

January 20th, 2010

Nordea Bank AB has predicted that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will experience negative growth in 2010 as their economies fail to rebound as quickly as the rest of Europe.

In the company’s Baltic Rim Outlook yesterday, the region’s largest bank predicts Estonia’s GDP to fall by 0.5 percent, Latvia’s by 2.9 percent, and Lithuania’s output to shrink 2.4 percent before the countries return to positive growth in 2011.

Even then, the growth rates will not match those of a few years ago with expected growth rates of only 4 percent, 2.7 percent, and 3 percent in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, respectively.

Within the European Union, the Baltic states have been hit the worst following the collapse of their real estate sector and languid growth in western Europe, where the three countries look to for more than 60 percent of their foreign sales.

“The hopes of recovery largely rely on the export sector, but so far demand from the main export partners is only growing cautiously,” Nordea Bank said in their report.

Turkmenistan Set to Move Niyazov’s Arch of Neutrality

January 19th, 2010

Less than four years after the death of Turkmenistan’s eccentric and repressive ruler Saparmurat Niyazov, President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has ordered the removal of the Arch of Neutrality from the country’s capital at Ashgabat.Arch of Neutrality

The 246-foot white tiled tripod tower was built by Niyazov to glorify himself during his rule and is topped with a rotating golden statue of himself which rotates so as to constantly face the sun.

The decision to move the statue outside of the city and rename it suggests that Turkmens may be trying to forget the isolated and repressive years under Niyazov and his authoritarian rule.

The late leader was famously narcissistic and had airports, cities, streets, months, periodicals, publications, and even a meteor named after himself and his family.

His portraits were hung outside public buildings and his name was included in the country’s patriotic oath which had to be published in every newspaper and recited at the end of every news program.

Niyazov also renamed himself the Great Turkmenbashi, meaning the “Father of All Turkmen,” and wrote a two volume spiritual guide that was made mandatory reading.

Vietnam Plans Billion Dollar Debt Sale

January 19th, 2010

Vietnam plans to sell $1 billion of 10-year dollar-denominated bonds in an attempt to curb inflation, an expanding trade deficit, and a weakening national currency (the dong).

The sale could occur as early as this week with a coupon rate of not greater than seven percent, according to Vietnam’s central bank.

“The new issue should have an absolute yield of around 6.85 percent to 7 percent,” said Sergey Dergachev of Frankfurt-based Union Investments. “Vietnam is economically much weaker, with significant twin deficits and a highly managed exchange rate.”

The proceeds of the sale will help fund Vietnam Oil & Gas Group, Vietnam National Shipping Lines, Song Da Corp., and Vietnam Machinery Installation Corp., the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement on their website.

The sale may also help the floundering Vietnamese dong which depreciated 5.4 percent last year against the dollar and is currently trading at VND18,420 to USD1.