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In “The Buzz” we interview experts on the legal industry living and working in Central and Eastern Europe to find out what’s happening in the region and what legislative/professional/cultural trends and developments they’re following closely. Because the interviews are carried out and published on the CEE Legal Matters website on a rolling basis, we’ve marked the dates on which the interviews were originally published.

Belarus — squeezed as it is uncomfortably between Ukraine and Russia both geographically and economically — continues to suffer from the ongoing crises in and conflict between the two, according to Sorainen Belarus Managing Partner Kiryl Apanasevich, as well as the indirect but continuing affects of foreign sanctions, imposed on Russia as its closest trade partner and largest investor.

Real estate is one of the most reliable forms of investment. The current trend in the real estate market in Belarus is a decrease in the price of both commercial and residential real estate due to excessive supply. This tendency may be interesting for foreign investors, since the yield rate in Belarus is usually at a high level.

Women’s Day is behind us, but the subjects of gender equality and equal opportunity are of year-round concern. This, the first part of a special two-part CEE Legal Matters article on women in private practice in CEE, provides the numbers and percentages from leading law firms across CEE, as well as a more thorough snapshot of one representative market. Part II of the report, in the June issue, will pull back the curtain even more, providing feedback and perspectives from lawyers across the region.

Cobalt has announced that lawyers from the Borenius team in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus will join it from January 1, 2016, turning Cobalt into “the largest full-service business law firm operation in the region.” This follows Borenius’ announcement earlier this week that it is withdrawing from the Baltics, and Sorainen’s announcement that it had picked up former Borenius Lithuania Partners Daivis Svirinas and Zygimantas Pacevicius, along with another eleven lawyers (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2015).

Belarus’ Stepanovski, Papakul and Partners has announced the expansion of its practice into a new area: "the criminal law protection of business.” According to SPP it is “following the market demand and needs of our clients” in linking "our understanding of business specifics and potential risks faced by owners and managers with our experience in criminal case management.” To facilitate the expansion, the firm has brought criminal attorney Natalia Shekina on board.

Magnusson International has announced that it is "discontinuing cooperation with the current Riga and Minsk teams” effective as of August 16, 2014. The northern European firm maintains its offices in Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, and Poland.

The Minsk office of Glimstedt has reported that it advised government and business representatives of the People's Republic of China on their investment in a Belarusian-Chinese industrial park in the Smolevichy district of Minsk.

Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev and Partners in Minsk advised Medplast in the process of securing a shortlist of potential investors in its privatization. The shortlist includes companies registered in CIS countries, the EU, and South Africa. The process of search and selection is realized by the National Agency of Investment and Privatization with the support of the World Bank. 

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