* The new president of Kosovo is the youngest, the first woman and the first non-partisan person to hold the post. She will also be the last selected by the present method of parliamentary election. Her election by the parliament breaks a deadlock and averts a potential political crisis. Atifete Jahjaga, who will turn 36 on April 20, is a western-trained policewoman and had been deputy director of the Kosovo police force. According to the deal that brought her to office, future presidents will be elected directly, and the first such election will be held within six months. People who know more about Kosovo than I do are kindly invited to weigh in.
* This long post on Bulgaria’s shrinking population coins the phrase “demographic bailout.” It’s an interesting look at a corner of Europe and a set of problems that tend not to find a wider audience. Population changes and their implications have long been an AFOE theme, ably explicated by Edward. Some of his views on Bulgaria are here, here and here.
* LiveJournal, which is the key platform for Russia’s blogosphere, has been under recurring DDoS attacks in April (LJ responds). It’s not at all clear who is behind the attacks, with accusations and counter-accusations quickly turning into a hall of mirrors. What has become clear is that an important element of Russia’s civic discourse is vulnerable.
* Speaking of Russian discourse, the country’s current chief of the armed forces’ general staff, Nikolai Makarov, spoke at the General Assembly of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences and apparently delivered quite a take-down. As one expert characterized the speech, Makarov said “the various military academies and institutes continued studying the old wars, assuming that in the future, the Russian military would be called upon to fight World War II yet again, and whatâ€™s more, do it with World War II era technology and tactics.” (The Academy’s director is a WWII veteran.)
Makarov took the Russian military’s shortcomings in the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 as impetus for significant reform, and has argued that Russia largely slept through the last 20 years of military advances. Furthermore, he foresees an army in which conscripts would make up no more than 15% of the forces. That would be an epochal change in Russian military culture. Interesting developments to follow, even if you aren’t living in a place that felt the sharp end of Russia’s armed forces recently. (h/t LGM)