Wednesday, 17 October 2007

17 October 2007 News Digest

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By Alima Bissenova (10/17/2007 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Armenian foreign minister: We have no intentions to use Kosovo as precedent for Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement

4 October

Armenian foreign minister: We have no intentions to use Kosovo as precedent for Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement

4 October

The Armenian foreign minister while speaking at the UN General Assembly session presented Yerevan’s position on an initiative to propose for discussion at the UN General Assembly the subject of frozen conflicts. “The Nagorno Karabakh conflict is on the agenda of the UN General Assembly on frozen conflicts. However, any resolution that covers all conflicts is not comprehensive from the start, as all of them are different,” Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan announced yesterday. As REGNUM was told at the Armenian foreign ministry press office, Vardan Oskanyan that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict must not be discussed at the UN, as the negotiation process on its settlement is held within frameworks of the OSCE. “It is not the place for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” the minister concluded.

According to the foreign minister, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is not a frozen one. “We continue the negotiations and centimeter for centimeter are getting closer to its settlement. Secondly, there is a serious document on the negotiation table that is based not on dreams but on key problems and consequences,” the diplomat said adding that together they would result in a balanced solution. “Thirdly, the process is grounded upon the right of the Nagorno Karabakh people for self-determination, for choosing their future. The Nagorno Karabakh people want nothing that does not belong to them. They want to have a right for peaceful living and determining their future. They want to use the right that every nation used represented at the UN.” “We are closely watching the developments around Kosovo. We hear statements of the international community that Kosovo can become a precedent for other conflicts. We have no intentions to use Kosovo as precedent, as it will contradict our position that all conflicts differ,” Vardan Oskanyan said that the Armenian side does not understand and cannot accept the reverse logic that Kosovo was given independence and that a nation cannot obtain self-determination. “Nobody should tell us that there are proportions of freedom or security,” Vardan Oskanyan concluded. The initiative to discuss frozen conflicts at the 62nd UN General Assembly was proposed by GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova). (Regnum)

 

Burjanadze calls on West not to pander to Russia

4 October

Georgia wants no confrontation with Russia and does not call on the West to enter in a confrontation with Russia either, but it demands that the West "not pander to" Russia, Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze said. "We want normal relations with Russia and we want no confrontation. We call on the West to do the same," Burjanadze told journalists on Thursday in comments on French Defense Minister Herve Morin's statement. Morin said a day earlier that France will back Georgia's entry to NATO, if Russia does not oppose it. (Interfax)

 

Kazakhstan to ratify Kyoto Protocol - Euro Parliament representative

4 October

Kazakhstan should ratify Kyoto Protocol. The member of the European Parliament Cem Ozdemir stated on Tuesday during the press conference in Almaty, the agency reports. C. Ozdemir noted that he supports aspiration of Kazakhstan to preside in OSCE in 2009. "My group supports this aspiration. However, I wish to emphasize that it is connected with responsibility in the issue of further growth of democracy and development of civil society," he said. During the press conference the Euro Parliament member informed that "Kazakhstan can become a part of the European Neighborhood Policy, though, we do not have direct borders." "Our relations should not be limited only to exchange of embassies. As it was informed earlier, in 2006 Kazakhstan stated a wish to be included in to the European Neighborhood Policy. (Kazakhstan Today)

 

International observers to monitor referendum in Kyrgyzstan

4 October

International observers, including Russian officials, will monitor a Kyrgyz referendum on amending the Constitution, a spokesman for the country's Central Election Commission said on Thursday. "The presence of international observers at the referendum will enhance its prestige and make it more transparent," the source said, adding that Russian and Georgian election commission officials had already filed applications for accreditation. International observers from the CIS Executive Committee, Russian parliamentarians and officials from public organizations also plan to monitor the Kyrgyz referendum. Earlier reports said local observers from political parties and public organizations would also participate. Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court annulled the country's Constitution in mid-September after ruling that its adoption by parliament in 2006 was unlawful. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed a decree on September 19 to call a referendum on amending the Constitution on October 21. The draft to be voted on in October stipulates that the country's parliament will be elected by party ballot, and that district and regional governments will serve as "the president's representatives at local level." Kyrgyzstan's main law was adopted by a national referendum in 2003 and amended twice in 2006. The Kyrgyz Central Election Commission has already designated 2,200 polling centers for the referendum. (RIA Novosti)

 

Abkhaz, S.Ossetian leaders to meet in Moscow for consultations

5 October

The presidents of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity, will meet in Moscow on Friday to discuss the situation in Georgia and in the conflict zones. "Kokoity and I will meet for consultations today. We must coordinate our moves, given the growing tensions in Georgia and the latest attempts to further stoke the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian- Ossetian conflicts," Bagapsh told Interfax. (Interfax)

 

NATO’S SECRETARY GENERAL VISITS GEORGIA

5 October

NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has paid an official visit to Georgia. The guest met with the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili. On October 4, Secretary General met with the students of Tbilisi State University (TSU), Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli and speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze. Today, Mr. Scheffer together with Saakashvili will arrive in Signahi region to hold briefing. From here, Secretary General will head to Brussels. (Azertag)

                

Tajikistan to be next Eurasec president

6 October

The Eurasian Economic Community announced Saturday Tajikistan will hold the rotating presidency next year. Leaders attending an Intergovernmental Council meeting in the capital of Tajikistan also set formation of a customs union and single energy market as the Eurasec focus for 2008, the Novosti news agency reported. Eurasec’s members include Russia and several former Soviet republics, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine are observers.The presidency currently resides with Russia. "At the meeting of heads of state in a narrow framework we decided to choose Tajikistan and President Emomali Rakhmon to chair Eurasec," Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Tair Mansurov, a governor of North Kazakhstan Region and a former Kazakh ambassador to Russia, was named the new secretary general of Eurasec. He replaces Grigory Rapota of Belarus, who has been secretary general since 2001. (UPI)

 

GM to set up car venture in Uzbekistan

8 October

General Motors Corp (GM.N) has set up a joint venture in Uzbekistan to produce and sell cars in the central Asian state, the Uzbek state auto company said on Monday. The state company, Uzavtoprom, said in a statement the two had signed an agreement to set up the venture, based on an existing car plant in Uzbekistan with annual production capacity of 250,000 Chevrolet cars. The statement said GM would hold a 25 percent in the venture with a possibility to raise it to 40 percent. The statement did not say how much the deal is worth and GM could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plant in eastern Uzbekistan was set up in 1996 together with South Korean company Daewoo Motor. Uzavtoprom has been looking for a strategic partner in the project since the Korean firm went bankrupt during a financial crisis in the late 1990s. (Reuters)

 

Two soldiers wounded in battle near Dagestani village

8 October

Two servicemen have been wounded in clashes with a group of militants near the village of Gubden, an on-duty officer from the Karabudakhkent District Interior Department told Interfax. The ministry defense officers were combing the area near the Gubden village, he said. "At around 11 am they came across a group of militants. Two servicemen were wounded in the shooting. The hunt for militants is continuing," the officer said. (Interfax)

 

Contract with Company Eni on development of Kashagan deposit not TO be reconsidered - Nazarbayev

9 October

The Contract with ENI Company on development of Kashagan deposit will not be reconsidered, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev stated on Monday at the press conference after negotiations with the Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi.  Nazarbayev reminded that 10 years ago Kazakhstan with a group of seven world companies signed the agreement on production on the largest deposit Kashagan. "There were no problems for 10 years," he emphasized. "This year the operator of ENI group, who became the operator by the support of the government of Kazakhstan, presented the government a new budget, which [increases expenses by dozens of millions of dollars] and postpones the first oil production from 2005 to 2010," the President reminded. "Our government considered this as a loss in the budget of a large amount of money, which had been planned in our strategic plans for development of economy and improvement of social status of our population," he added. "In this connection, both parties started negotiation process. These are commercial negotiations, which concern neither the President of Kazakhstan, nor the Prime Minister of Italy. Thus, the leader of the state emphasized that "if investors break the signed contract, the Kazakhstan party reserves the right to itself to take appropriate measures according to the legislation of the country," Nazarbayev emphasized. (Kazakhstan Today)

 

Gunmen attack Afghanistan mosque

10 October

Two people have been killed and at least 10 injured in Afghanistan after gunmen opened fire in a mosque during prayers in a province bordering Kabul. In a separate incident, also near the capital, a mullah was shot dead. The mosque shooting took place in Wardak province which borders Kabul. A police chief said around 10 gunmen entered the building in Abad district.  They opened fire, killing two people and injuring others including a boy. Police are trying to find a motive. But it does not appear to be any kind of tribal or local dispute, and the Taleban are suspected to be responsible. In neighbouring Logar province on Tuesday night the Afghan interior ministry said a mullah on his way home from prayers was abducted and then shot a number of times. He died of his injuries. Attacks on religious figures, especially against those perceived to be pro-government, have increased over the past year.  But they are still unusual.

They are also a reminder that the insurgency is not just limited to bombings and fighting in the south and east of the country.  Assassinations and tactics designed to intimidate local people are being used across Afghanistan and are getting increasingly close to the capital. (BBC)

 

There will not be another war in the Caucasus - senior Russian commander

10 October

There will be no new war in the North Caucasus, said Gen. Nikolai Rogozhkin, the Commander-in-chief of Russian Internal Troops. "We will not let a new Caucasus war happen no matter what takes place in Ingushetia or elsewhere in the North Caucasus. The situation, particularly in Ingushetia, is under control, as has been repeatedly stated by Ingush President Murat Zyazikov. Our troops are fulfilling their mission here given the present circumstances," Rogozhkin told journalists in Moscow. The situation, particularly in Ingushetia, is being made worse by certain forces. "Our units have conducted a number of operations in order to neutralize and eliminate several armed groups, and we will continue to fight gunmen in Ingushetia and elsewhere in the North Caucasus," the general said. (Interfax)

 

4-magnitude earthquake struck Almaty

10 October 4-magnitude earthquake by the Richter scale struck Almaty on October 9 at 22.00, the agency reports referring to the Ministry of Emergency of the Republic. According to the Seismology Institute of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, the epicenter of the earthquake was on border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The magnitude in the epicenter of the earthquake made 12.6. "The epicenter of the earthquake was in 81st kilometer in the southeast direction from Almaty," the press service noted. (Kazakhstan Today)

 

Lawyer: Irakli Okruashvili did not leave Georgia

10 October

Georgia’s ex-defense minister Irakli Okruashvili did not leave Georgia and is now at his home in Tbilisi, his lawyer Eka Beselia told reporters yesterday after a meeting with Okruashvili, a REGNUM correspondent informs. “He did not depart anywhere. I had a meeting with him at his home. We discussed and made clear several issues,” Eka Beselia said. Georgia’s former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili, whom the Tbilisi City Court ruled to release from custody on October 8 and his preventive punishment was replaced with the bail of 10mn lari, was freed on the night of October 9 after the bail was paid. Part of the bail was reportedly paid in money and the other part was guaranteed by his realty. Some media released information today citing Irakli Okruashvili’s guards, who were on duty near his house, that he left Georgia with his family immediately after his release. (Regnum)

 

Chechen human rights activists seek meeting with Putin

11 October

Chechen Human Rights Ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev has asked for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin to discuss the search for missing people. "More than 4,300 citizens have been abducted or have gone missing since 1994," Nukhazhiyev said. "Your meeting with Chechen human rights activists, who are doing their best to promote the constitutional process and restore civil society fundamentals, would give a major impetus to a constructive dialogue between the central government and the public," he said. "The meeting would enable Chechen representatives to discuss problems related to human rights and ways to solve them." (Interfax)

 

TAJIK COURT IMPRISONS 10 FOR TERRORISM, MEMBERSHIP IN BANNED MILITANT GROUP

11 October

A Tajik judge said Thursday that 14 men and women were convicted of terrorism and membership in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a banned militant group responsible for several bombings and armed incursions across ex-Soviet Central Asia.The Sogdi regional court on Wednesday sentenced 10 men to between 13 and 29 years in prison for their role in an attack on border posts between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan last year, Judge Amirkhon Iskhokov said. Another man and three women were freed under an amnesty announced earlier this year, he said. President Emomali Rakhmon ordered the amnesty in connection with the 10th anniversary of the end of the country's devastating civil war. The IMU, which is believed to have connections to al-Qaida, had training camps in neighboring Afghanistan and has fought alongside Taliban militants. It recently has shown signs of activity after years of relative quiet. (AP)

 

Turkmenistan Moves Away From Isolation

12 October

The president adopted legislation allowing foreign investors to create companies and own property in Turkmenistan -- moving the natural gas-rich country further from the isolation imposed by his autocratic predecessor. An amended law on foreign investment, adopted by President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov and published Friday in the official newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan, allows foreign investors to create and fully own companies, and to acquire existing companies and property including real estate. Berdymukhamedov came to power after the death in December of Saparmurat Niyazov, who had ruled Turkmenistan with an iron hand since before it gained independence in the 1991 Soviet collapse. Under Niyazov, the access of foreign companies was strictly limited. Berdymukhamedov has expanded contacts with the outside world, likely seeking to capitalize on intense interest in its resources. After Russia, the Central Asian nation is the largest producer of natural gas in the former Soviet Union. The president also has moved to attract foreign investment in other sectors. In July he announced plans for a special economic zone aimed to bring in investment to develop tourism infrastructure and port capabilities on the inland Caspian Sea. (AP)

 

Kyrgyzstan, Russia to discuss bilateral power, oil&gas cooperation

12 October

The ninth meeting of the Russian-Kyrgyzstan intergovernmental commission for trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation will be held in Bishkek on Friday. Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev will head the delegation of Kyrgyzstan at the talks and head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko will head the Russian delegation. Kiriyenko arrived in Bishkek on Thursday with a delegation of 60. Representatives of the Russian business community are also among the delegation members. During the meeting the sides are planned to discuss a total of 15 issues related to mutually advantageous cooperation in different spheres, including electric power engineering, oil and gas industry, agro-industrial sector, communications, transport and information technologies. The problem of the stay in the territory of Kyrgyzstan of over 20 dumps of radioactive production waste since the USSR period is a separate item on the talks’ agenda. The republic has not enough own funds for the reconstruction of the facilities and Bishkek hopes to get help from Russia in this issue. The poor technical condition of the tailing dumps is fraught with ecological disaster in the whole Central Asian region. The sides are expected to sign a number of documents on cooperation on the results of the talks. (Itar-Tass)

ARMENIAN OFFICIALS HAIL GENOCIDE VOTE BY U.S. CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE 12 October In an address at the opening of a session of the Armenian parliament, speaker Tigran Torosian hailed on October 11 the recent passage of a resolution commemorating the "Armenian Genocide" by a key committee of the U.S. Congress, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The measure is now likely to be sent on to a vote in the House of Representatives, where a majority has already signed on to the resolution. A parallel measure is in the Senate pipeline. Torosian expressed gratitude to the American congressmen for showing "high moral qualities" and withstanding "various pressures," referring to an intense lobbying effort by both Turkey and the Bush Administration opposing the measure. Former justice minister and current parliamentarian Davit Harutiunian also welcomed the vote but said that the resolution was unlikely to bring about any "essential change" to Armenian-Turkish relations, adding that it was his "conviction" that "Turkey would itself recognize the genocide in the next 10 or 15 years." After the vote was welcomed by President Kocharian on October 10 during an official visit to Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that he thinks both Turkey and Armenia should now "make real steps toward reconciliation," Mediamax reported. Kocharian stressed that "the recognition of historical injustice can not harm bilateral relations" and referring to a possible reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, explained that "the simplest formula would be the start of a dialogue without preconditions." The resolution, adopted on October 10 by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, formally defined the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. (RFE/RL)

Blast kills 4 in Afghanistan

13 October

A bomb explosion near a mosque in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province killed four Afghan National Police officers and wounded seven others, including one civilian, Friday, the U.S.-led coalition command announced Saturday.

The bombing took place in Gereshk City "as people were enjoying an evening out" on the first day of Eid al-Fitr -- a celebration marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the coalition said. "Coalition forces operating in the area responded immediately and provided emergency medical treatment to six wounded ANP officers and one Afghan non-combatant at the scene," a coalition statement said. The civilian and five police officers were then transported to a nearby medical facility to receive further medical care, where they were listed in critical condition. (CNN)

 

ARMENIANS BREAK CEASEFIRE

13 October

On October 12 from 21.00 to 23.55, and on October 13 from 05.25 to 05.30 subunits of the Armenian Armed Forces from their positions located near the Ashagiabdulkarimli, Garakhanbayli, Javahirli and Yusifjanli villages subjected to gunfire the opposite positions of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, press service of Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said. The enemy was silenced after retaliation. No casualties reported. (AzerTag)

 

Iran-Kazakhstan Caspian Summit

15 October Following his arrival in Tehran on an official state visit to Iran, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev met on October 15 with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. The two leaders signed a set of new bilateral agreements, including an accord on cooperation in tourism and regarding maritime trade, mainly between the Iranian ports of Anzali and Amirabad and the Kazakh port of Aqtau on the Caspian Sea, and new details regarding a proposal to construct a railway line connecting the two countries through Turkmenistan. Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference following the meeting, Ahmadinejad vowed to increase trade with Kazakhstan fivefold, from the current level of $2 billion to a target of $10 billion. In the energy sector, the Iranian president also said that he discussed the possible joint construction of an oil refinery and details concerning a "swap" in oil trade with Nazarbaev. For his part, Nazarbaev sought to increase the sale of Kazakh grain to Iran and expand Iranian investment in Kazakhstan's machine-building, infrastructure, transport, and telecommunications sectors. The Kazakh president is due to participate on October 16 in the second summit of the Caspian littoral states, hosted by Iran. (Interfax-Kazakhstan)

 

Civilians 'killed in Nato raid'

15 October

Three civilians were killed and seven injured when Nato planes attacked insurgents outside Kabul on Sunday, a senior Afghan police officer says. The deputy chief of police of Wardak province said Nato called in air support after militants had ambushed a convoy of international peacekeepers.  He said the air attack left five insurgents dead and three civilians, including a husband and wife.  Nato said it had no information about the incident. The deputy police chief of Wardak province, which borders Kabul, said a roadside bomb struck a convoy belonging to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) on Sunday morning. Asif Bandwal described how a battle then began in Jalrez district as the Taleban fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicles. He said Nato air power was brought in and three local people were killed and seven injured. Five insurgents were also killed when the bombs were dropped, he said.

The Taleban say they destroyed four vehicles. The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says an Isaf spokesman was unable to provide any information about the incident but said he did not think there had been any loss of life from Nato forces.

The issue of civilian casualties has had serious repercussions over the past 18 months with President Karzai criticising international troops for not taking more care when fighting insurgents. This year has been the most violent since the fall of the Taleban in 2001. The United Nations says the number of insurgent attacks has increased by almost 30% on last year. (BBC)

 

SUPPORT GROWS FOR COMEBACK BY FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT 15 October Meeting in Yerevan on October 10, some two dozen political and public organizations affirmed their support for former President Levon Ter-Petrossian's anticipated candidacy in the presidential ballot due early next year, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on October 12. Opposition Hanrapetutiun party leader and former Prime Minister Aram Sargsian explained that the purpose of the meeting was to orchestrate a "serious support base" for Ter-Petrossian's nomination by a civic initiative, rather than a specific political party. (RFE/RL)

 

Helicopter MI-8T crashed in Azerbaijan sector of Caspian Sea

15 October In Azerbaijan, helicopter MI-8T, belonging to the airline Azalhelicopter of the state concern Azerbaijan hava yolarry, crashed on October 12, at 21.58 p.m. by local time at usual meteorological conditions. According to the Azerbaijan hava yolarry, the crash occurred during evacuation of the patient from the sea derrick platform Hazar-4 of the State oil company of Azerbaijan. Technical condition of the helicopter prior to take-off was operable. Prior to the flight, according to the maintenance instruction, technical servicing was performed, the same crew performed control-verifying flight. According to the latest information from the State concern, rescue works have been organized at once on the territory of the crash and rescue ships and helicopters were sent to the sea. As a result of these works, the crash territory has been defined. According to the preliminary data, 4 members of the crew and 2 passengers were lost. Personalities of all six victims have already been established. "The wrecked helicopter Mi-8T is in Caspian Sea at the depth of 20 meters. Special elevating crane has been sent to the scene to lift up the helicopter from the sea bottom. The search and rescue works are proceeding," the state concern informs. The commission has been created to investigate the reason of the crash by the state concern Azerbaijan hava yolarry, investigation department for grave crimes of the State Office of Public Prosecutor of the Republic instituted proceedings, according to the clause 262.3. (Kazakhstan Today)

 

GEORGIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY, UN MONITORS RELEASE CONTRADICTORY REPORTS ON KODORI CLASH 15 October The Georgian Interior Ministry released on October 11 its report on the clash on September 20 between Abkhaz border guards and Georgian special-forces troops. According to that report, the Georgian forces were deployed on September 19 to intercept a group of armed men spotted two days earlier near a highway under construction in the Kodori Gorge, and early on September 20 located the group, some of whom opened fire with assault rifles and grenade launchers. The report stressed that "only those members of the group who put up armed resistance were killed." Seven Abkhaz taken prisoner after the shooting have been charged with illegal possession of weapons, belonging to an illegal armed group, and attempted premeditated murder. On October 12, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) posted on its website (http://www.unomig.org) the preliminary findings of its own probe into the shootings, which noted discrepancies between the Abkhaz and Georgian versions of what happened (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," September 24, 2007). Those findings confirmed Abkhaz claims that the shooting took place on Abkhaz territory, rather than in the Kodori Gorge as Tbilisi claims, and that the two men killed -- both Russian citizens serving on contract as instructors with the Abkhaz security forces -- were shot dead at point-blank range. In Sukhum(i), Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba on October 12 said the findings of the UN investigation will help Abkhazia secure international support for its efforts to secure the release of the seven border guards. Meanwhile, in his most recent (October 3) report on the situation in Abkhazia to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended extending the so-called security zone along the de facto border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia northwards as far as the Kodori Gorge. Shamba was quoted by ITAR-TASS on October 9 as saying that proposal meets Abkhaz interests. He added that the two sides should discuss the proposal and once agreement is reached, the formal mandates of both UNOMIG and the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis in the conflict zone should be amended. For the past year, the Abkhaz authorities have refused to resume talks with Tbilisi until the Georgian Interior Ministry troops deployed to the Kodori Gorge in July 2006 are withdrawn. (RFE/RL)

 

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT ASSUMES LEADERSHIP OF NEW POLITICAL PARTY SPARKING HARSH CRITICISM BY OPPOSITION PARTIES.

16 October

Kurmanbek Bakiev was elected on October 15 to lead a new political party, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service. He was elected by over 1,000 delegates at a founding party congress of the new Ak Jol Eldik Partiyasy (Bright Path Popular Party). The move comes just prior to the constitutional referendum set for October 21, which is set to lead to new parliamentary elections. Only last month, Bakiev said that "as the head of state," he "must treat equally all the political parties" and vowed that "I cannot and have no right to be the leader of any" political party. But prior to that statement, he also pledged to form "a new political force." Opposition deputies on October 15 strongly criticized the election of President Bakiev as the leader of a new political party, saying that he "has no right to lead a party." Parliamentarian Temir Sariev, one of the leaders of the Ak Shumkar party, explained that the creation of the new Ak Jol Party was another "sad example of creating ruling parties," with members that "are united neither by the idea nor by interests of Kyrgyzstan" but created solely because "they just want to serve one person." Another deputy, Isa Omurkulov of the opposition Social Democratic Party, also criticized the formation of the new pro-government party and dismissed rumors that his party will field candidates in an electoral alliance with Ak Jol in the widely expected new parliamentary elections, adding that the party, which is led by Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev, "will run for parliament independently." Omurkulov added that Bakiev's decision is a "major mistake," because "no new political party can become genuinely recognized and respected among the public and the voters during one [or] two months." (RFE/RL)

 

TURKMEN STATE WEBSITE REMOVES READERS' COMMENTS FEATURE

16 October

In a dramatic about-face from its earlier decision, the Turkmen authorities removed on October 12 a new readers' comments feature that it previously touted as an example of freedom of information only two days earlier, RFE/RL reported. The decision removed the feedback option for the Turkmen government's official website, Altyn Asyr (The Golden Age), or turkmenistan.gov.tm, thereby blocking the posting of unsolicited comments by viewers. Although only about 15 comments were posted to the website during the two days posts were allowed, several offered mild criticism of former President Saparmurat Niyazov and one called on President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to release all political prisoners held in Turkmen prisons. (RFE/RL)

 

Putin warns US against attacking Iran 16 October Russian leader Vladimir Putin met his Iranian counterpart Tuesday and implicitly warned the U.S. not to use a former Soviet republic to stage an attack on Iran. He also said countries bordering the Caspian Sea must jointly back any oil pipeline projects in the region. At a summit of the five nations that border the inland Caspian Sea, Putin said none of the nations' territory should be used by any outside countries for use of military force against any nation in the region. It was a clear reference to long-standing rumors that the U.S. was planning to use Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, as a staging ground for any possible military action against Iran. "We are saying that no Caspian nation should offer its territory to third powers for use of force or military aggression against any Caspian state," Putin said. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also underlined the need for solidarity. "The Caspian Sea is an inland sea and it only belongs to the Caspian states, therefore only they are entitled to have their ships and military forces here," he said. Putin, whose trip to Tehran is the first by a Kremlin leader since World War II, warned that energy pipeline projects crossing the Caspian could only be implemented if all five nations that border the sea support them. Putin did not name a specific country, but his statement underlined Moscow's strong opposition to U.S.-backed efforts to build pipelines to deliver hydrocarbons to the West, bypassing Russia. "Projects that may inflict serious environmental damage to the region cannot be implemented without prior discussion by all five Caspian nations," he said. Other nations bordering the Caspian Sea and in attendance at the summit are: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. The legal status of the Caspian — believed to contain the world's third-largest energy reserves — has been in limbo since the 1991 Soviet collapse, leading to tension and conflicting claims to seabed oil deposits. Iran, which shared the Caspian's resources equally with the Soviet Union, insists that each coastal nation receive an equal portion of the seabed. Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan want the division based on the length of each nation's shoreline, which would give Iran a smaller share. Putin's visit took place despite warnings of a possible assassination plot and amid hopes that personal diplomacy could help offer a solution to an international standoff on Iran's nuclear program. Putin has warned the U.S. and other nations against trying to coerce Iran into reining in its nuclear program and insists peaceful dialogue is the only way to deal with Tehran's defiance of a U.N. Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment. "Threatening someone, in this case the Iranian leadership and Iranian people, will lead nowhere," Putin said Monday during his trip to Germany. "They are not afraid, believe me." (AP)
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Silk Road Paper Jeffry Hartman, The May 2005 Andijan Uprising: What We KnowMay 2016.

Silk Road Paper Johanna Popjanevski, Retribution and the Rule of Law: The Politics of Justice in Georgia, June 2015.

Book S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, eds., ·Putin's Grand Strategy: The Eurasian Union and its Discontents, Joint Center Monograph, September 2014.

The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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