UnderCovid: Stories That Go Unnoticed

Hungary

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, said that his government would not give up its fundamental approach of nurturing a work-based economy, rejecting any possibility to return to a welfare-based economy. That would mean, he said, that Hungary will be obliged to borrow from foreign sources, which would push Hungary back to a place “where the IMF and financial speculators of the like of George Soros are waiting for us.”

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Six planes of the Hungarian low-fare carrier Wizz Air landed in Beijing to collect a total of 4.3m masks to bring them to Hungary, according to Péter Szijjártó, the Hungarian foreign affairs minister.

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The Hungarian Army sent troops to nine companies in the logistics, food and chemical sectors to help them operate, according to the local defense ministry. The companies belong to a list of 140 businesses designated byh the Hungarian government to be “essential” during the ongoing state of emergency in Hungary. Earlier on, troops were sent to 84 of those companies. The companies in the latest wave include Rail Cargo Hungaria, the logistics operator Wabererʼs International, food manufacturers Bonafarm, Kométa 99, Pápai Hús, Goodmills Magyarország, Globus Konzervipari and Bonduelle Central Europe Zöldségfeldolgozó, and chemicals maker Alkaloida Vegyészeti Gyár.

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German-owned carmaker Audi announced that it would extend the shutdown at its base in Győr (123 km west away of Budapest) by another two weeks until 19 April 2020.

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Wallis Automotive Europe, a subsidiary of AutoWallis Plc., whose shares are listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange, has become the official distributor of Jaguar and Land Rover in Hungary following its success in an international tender for the exclusive importer rights of the two carmakers.

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In Q1 2020, construction of 27 new real estate projects was launched in Budapest, which was a year-on-year decline of 37.2%.


Romania

The Kazakh-Romanian Energy Investment Fund (FIEKR) approved in early April two new investment projects in Romania worth a total of US$ 43m. The projects are to to be implemented in the Romanian energy sector.

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The carmaker Ford announced the extension of the shutdown of its factory in the city of Craiova until at least 4 May 2020. The factory makes 1,000 cars a day.


Czechia

More than 10,000 sole traders stopped their businesses in the Czech Republic since the beginning of March 2020, Bisnode, a Prague-based consultancy found. That is an increase of 46% compared to the previous year.


Moldova

The honorary president of the Democratic Party, Dumitru Diacov, floated the idea of having parliament to elect the president of the Republic of Moldova because of the Covid 19 pandemic. That would mean a return to the times before 2016 when the popular vote for the president was introduced in Moldova.

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The ministry of finance in Moldova spurned criticism in the media that a legal proposal recently introduced is aimed at protecting the business interests of politicians in the current government. He called these accusations as “fake” and “irresponsible insinuations.”


Bulgaria

Acting on the recommendation of the government, the head of state and commander-in-chief Roumen Radev has appointed Vice Admiral Emil Eftimov as Chief of Defense.


Estonia

The Estonian government approved in early April amendments to the Aliens Act and the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act that would force foreigners residing in Estonia who have lost their jobs to leave Estonia the country as soon as possible. “The bill concerns third-country nationals working in Estonia on the basis of a visa for the purpose of employment or without a visa. If their short-term work permit expires or they become unemployed for any other reason, they must return to their home country as soon as possible,” Mart Helme, Estonia’s interior minister said. The Police and Border Guard Board are empowered by the law to revoke the visa or visa-free stay of the foreigners that find themselves jobless.


Ukraine

Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff in the presidential administration of Volodymyr Zelensky, and Yermak’s brother Denys are allegedly involved in corrupt dealings, according to Bihus.info, a journalism portal in Ukraine. Videos leaked to bihus.info show Denys Yermak discussing plans to crack down on the business of the Danish-owned logistics company Maersk and the Ukrainian logistics firm TIS, which is co-owned by businessman Andriy Stavnitser and his brother Yegor Grebennikov.

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A former Ukrainian MP, Georgii Logvynsky, in a move to dodge legal action against him, is trying to extend his wife’s tenure as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The tenure grants her and, by extension, him, immunity from prosecution. Logvynsky was accused by the Ukrainian anti-corruption watchdog of forging documents submitted to the ECHR that led to a payment of US$ 2m made by the Ukrainian government to an obscure company, which is allegedly associated with Logvynsky.

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Privatbank filed a new lawsuit in Cyprus against its former owners, Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov, for money laundering and fraud in a case of US $ 5.5bn.


Russia

Russia has sent military doctors and medical equipment to Serbia to assist the Balkan nation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Russia’s Defense Ministry promised to send 11 flights with 87 army medics to Serbia following a phone call between the Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Serbian peer, Aleksandar Vucic, last Thursday.


Spain

In a move to shield Spanish companies listed on the stock exchange from undesired takeovers, the Spanish government extended its regulations limiting ownership in Spain’s companies to EU. According to the new rules, adopted in early April, companies not only from non-EU countries, but also from the European Union, will not be able to gain more than 10% of the capital in Spanish listed companies that operate in strategic sectors.


Portugal

Santander Totta, a major bank in Portugal, has announced that it would not distribute dividends for the 2019 financial year. The payments were slated for May 2020.


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