Wednesday, 13 June 2007

13 June 2007 News Digest

Published in News Digest

By Alima Bissenova (6/13/2007 issue of the CACI Analyst)


2 June

Approximately 50 representatives of leftist political parties in Kyrgyzstan held a demonstration in front of the U.


2 June

Approximately 50 representatives of leftist political parties in Kyrgyzstan held a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek on June 2 to protest the presence of the U.S. military base in the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Klara Ajibekova, the leader of one of Kyrgyzstan's two communist parties, told demonstrators that the rally was the beginning of a drive to oust the base from Kyrgyz territory. "Kyrgyzstan is becoming the hostage of the U.S. Let the U.S. play all its games on its own territory. Today's rally is the beginning of the Kyrgyz people's struggle against the deployment of the base in the country," Ajibekova said. Aleksandr Tiperov, head of a movement calling for the removal of the U.S. air base, said that he and his supporters plan to gather signatures for a referendum on the U.S. presence, reported. Kyrgyz law requires at least 300,000 signatures to trigger a nationwide referendum. A number of committees in Kyrgyzstan's parliament have recommended a review of the U.S. military presence. (


2 June

An opposition assembly held by the opposition movement For a Worthy Future for Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek on June 2 called for a referendum on a union with Russia, Interfax reported. Former Prime Minister Feliks Kulov, the leader of For a Worthy Future, told reporters, "A union with Russia will preserve the unity of Kyrgyzstan and its people, who have been split by the government's silly steps into the north and the south." Kulov said that if parliament does not take up the plan for a confederation with Russia, activists will work for a referendum to dissolve the legislature. "We give the country's leadership until autumn. By that time, the collection of signatures in support of a confederation with Russia will be completed, and we will wait for the authorities' reaction," Kulov said. "And following the collection of 300,000 signatures, we will put three questions to a referendum, specifically the creation of a union with Russia; an early presidential election; and the parliament's dissolution and a new parliamentary election." (


4 June

Speaking at a donors' conference in Dushanbe on June 2, President Emomali Rahmon criticized Russia for its failure to write off Tajik debts, agencies reported. Rahmon said "Russia very often writes off debts of African countries, forgetting about its closest neighbors." He added, "Asian countries remain forgotten, and in particular Central Asian countries." Rahmon said that Tajikistan has raised the issue with Russia several times and received no response, but will pay off its remaining debt to Russia "next year," RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Tajikistan's debt to Russia stood at $35 million in January 2007. (RFE/RL)

UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION TO END WORK IN TAJIKISTAN 4 June Kori Udovicki, a UN assistant secretary-general and assistant administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP), says the UN will close the Tajikistan Office of Peace-Building on July 31. Speaking in Dushanbe on June 4 after meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Udovicki said: "There is a risk that the situation could deteriorate in every country that has undergone a conflict similar to the one in Tajikistan. However, countries should not be dependent on assistance." She said "Tajikistan can ensure its own security by itself," adding that "the international community should provide assistance to the country in its future development." She noted that the UNDP plans to allocate $30 million in 2008 for education and health-care programs in Tajikistan. (Interfax)


4 June

Marat Sultanov, the speaker of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, told journalists in Bishkek on June 4 that service personnel at the U.S. air base outside the Kyrgyz capital should be stripped of their diplomatic immunity. At the same time, Sultanov noted that the agreement between the United States and Kyrgyzstan on the U.S. base was signed by the two countries' governments, and the Kyrgyz parliament can only recommend a course of action, but cannot cancel the agreement. Several parliamentary committees have recommended reviewing the agreement on the base. A number of issues have marred Kyrgyz-U.S. relations over the base, including a shooting at the base in December 2006 that killed a Kyrgyz citizen. Sultanov urged talks, saying, "We should review this agreement from all sides, since it is a particular foreign policy issue, and we shouldn't let emotions hold sway." (


4 June

Austrian authorities arrested Rakhat Aliev, the son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, in Vienna on June 1 and released him on $1.3 million in bail on June 3. Aliev, who is wanted on kidnapping charges in Kazakhstan, must remain in Austria while that country weighs Kazakhstan's extradition request. Aliev told Austria's "Profil" that "Austria must not deliver me to a system under which my life and the lives of my family are endangered." The charges against Aliev stem from an alleged takeover attempt at Kazakh bank Nurbank, in which Aliev is a shareholder. Aliev has said that the charges against him are a politically motivated response to his desire to run for the presidency. Kazakhstan's parliament recently removed term limits for Nazarbaev, whose current term runs through 2012. (RFE/RL)


4 June

The Moscow-backed head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, on June 4 awarded Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev the order of Akhmat Kadyrov. During his visit to Astana, Kadyrov told reporters that he presented Nazarbaev with the order on behalf of the Chechen people for "the fraternal, friendly relations and support he showed us during the years of the deportation of the Chechen people, support we feel up through the present day." Many

Chechens were forcibly relocated to Kazakhstan during World War II. Kadyrov also said that he held meetings with Kazakh businesspeople in Almaty, Karaganda, and Astana, promising that Kazakh investors will soon send representatives to Chechnya to explore investment opportunities. (Interfax-Kazakhstan)


4 June

Zviad Dzidziguri, one of the leaders of the Democratic Front opposition parliament faction, told journalists on June 4 that the faction has received a written complaint from one of the 850 Georgian servicemen currently deployed as part of the international peacekeeping force in Iraq. The unnamed serviceman said the heat and other conditions are intolerable, and asked the parliament not to give the green light for the deployment of some 1,200 more servicemen to Iraq. Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili, however, told journalists in Tbilisi later on June 4 that the information contained in the letter is untrue, and no Georgian serviceman could have written it. (Caucasus Press)


5 June

Serzh Sarkisian predicted on June 4 that the composition of the new government will be clear by June 7, the day when the parliament elected on May 12 is due to convene for its first session, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Talks between Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its junior coalition partner in the outgoing government, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD), began three weeks ago, but as on June 4 it remained unclear whether and on what terms the HHD would join the new government, according to Hrant Markarian, one of the party's leading members. Sarkisian said there are likely to be "quite large-scale changes" in the composition of the government, which will include some persons who are not connected with either the HHK, the HHD, or the pro-government Bargavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia) party, which has the second-largest parliament faction. He also said that there will be "some things that perhaps have never before existed in Armenian political culture," but declined to elaborate. (RFE/RL)


5 June

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met in Baku on June 4 with President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani media reported. Moratinos reiterated the concern recently expressed by the OSCE High Representative for Media Freedom, Miklos Haraszti, over continuing reprisals against journalists in Azerbaijan, noting that "an independent press is essential for democracy." He affirmed that the OSCE will do all in its power to ensure that the presidential election due in 2008 is free and democratic. Moratinos also expressed the hope that at their meeting in St.

Petersburg on June 10, Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian will "take an important step" closer to the signing of a framework agreement on the basic principles for resolving the Karabakh conflict, according to a June 4 press release posted on the OSCE website ( (RFE/RL)


6 June

The lower house of the Kazakh parliament voted on June 6 to revise the terms of a lease governing Russia's use of two military areas in the country, Khabar TV reported. According to the terms of the new lease, Russia will pay $25 million each year for use of the Saryshagan and Emba staging grounds. Russia previously provided Kazakhstan with an equivalent value in arms and military equipment in an agreement originally concluded in 1995. Deputies also stipulated that a part of the annual payment must be used for the financing of health care and development of the local areas around the two military areas. (RFE/RL)


6 June

Some 1,000 people rallied in Stavropol late on June 5 to demand the expulsion of ethnic Chechens and the resignation of Stavropol Krai Governor

Aleksandr Chernogorov. Some protesters clashed with riot police, who briefly detained up to 51 demonstrators and filed charges against one of them. The unauthorized protest took place despite the imposition of tough security measures. It was held in response to the June 3 fatal stabbing of two Russian students, which some residents believe was carried out by Chechens to avenge the death of a Chechen youth during a May 24 brawl. It is not clear who killed the three young men, and no charges have been filed in those cases. On June 6, Chernogorov met with representatives of the protesters, who demanded that the murders be solved and that citizens' safety be guaranteed. A statement from the governor's office noted that the "representatives suggested that the leaders of ethnic diasporas be actively involved in an explanatory campaign for the population, including in the media, to help establish peace and calm in the city." Anatoly Kucherena, who is a Public Chamber deputy and a lawyer, appealed to the authorities to provide full information regarding the killings. He reminded them of the September 2006 fighting in Kondopoga in Karelia, which, he said, demonstrated the importance of providing complete and objective information to the public. (


6 June

The press service of the pro-Moscow Chechen Republic leadership issued a statement on June 5 rejecting as without foundation an article published in the June 3 issue of the British weekly "Sunday Times" reporting that videos are circulating in Chechnya showing members of the security forces subordinate to republic head Kadyrov torturing people, including a man suspected of stealing oil. The statement said that such information originates with "illegal armed formations" that have a vested interest in destabilizing the political situation in Chechnya. It further affirmed that the Chechen leadership is committed to resolving problems with human rights, and quoted reports by the human rights organization Memorial and comments by Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg to the effect that the human rights situation has improved thanks to the efforts of the republic's leadership. Hammarberg was quoted as telling Kadyrov during talks in February that numerous detainees he spoke to in Grozny complained to him that they have been mistreated or tortured. (RFE/RL)

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY MEETS WITH KYRGYZ LEADERS 6 June U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met in Bishkek on June 5 with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Defense Minister Ismail Isakov for talks focusing on issues related to bilateral military cooperation, including the status of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and AKIpress reported. At a press conference after the meetings, Gates noted that the talks also addressed "opportunities for expanding the nonmilitary side" of the U.S.-Kyrgyz relationship. The U.S. military base, located at the Manas air base, houses roughly 1,200 U.S. military personnel and serves as the primary support base for operations in neighboring Afghanistan. The high-level visit is seen as a response to recent recommendations by several key Kyrgyz parliamentary committees calling on the Kyrgyz government to "review" the U.S. military presence in the country, and follows recent calls by the parliament speaker demanding that U.S. personnel be stripped of their diplomatic immunity. As the most obvious symbol of the Kyrgyz-U.S. military relationship, the Manas base has sparked resentment among the Kyrgyz public in response to a number of issues: a shooting at the base in December 2006 that killed a Kyrgyz citizen; a collision that damaged a Kyrgyz aircraft; and complaints alleging that operations at the air base are harming the local environment. (RFE/RL)


6 June

Former Economic Development Minister Farxad Aliyev testified on June 6 at his trial on corruption charges that he never had any contacts with exiled former parliament speaker Rasul Quliyev. At the time of Aliyev's arrest in October 2005, he was accused of plotting with Quliyev to stage a coup d'etat. Aliyev also said that he discharged his ministerial duties honestly, regularly reported to the president on malpractice by various local officials, and sought single-handedly to dismantle the economic system under which individual powerful officials exercised a monopoly over the import of such basic goods as tea. He claimed his whistle-blowing activities incurred the wrath of unnamed "black forces" who sought to destroy him and informed President Ilham Aliyev (to whom he is not related) of his alleged ties with the opposition and his presidential aspirations. Farxad Aliyev subsequently refused to answer questions from the prosecution. (


8 June

The parliament elected on May 12 convened on June 7 in Yerevan for its first session in the presence of President Robert Kocharian and of Catholicos Karekin II, who pronounced his blessing on the assembled deputies, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The eight deputies representing the opposition Orinats Yerkir party headed by former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and the seven representing the Zharangutiun (Heritage) party of U.S.-born former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian boycotted the opening session to protest the Constitutional Court's failure to respond to formal requests by four separate opposition parties to probe allegations of vote rigging during the May 12 ballot. Tigran Torosian, a member of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) that has the largest parliament faction, was again elected parliament speaker, having held that post in the outgoing parliament after Baghdasarian resigned in May 2006. Vahan Hovannisian (no relation to Raffi) of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun was similarly reelected a deputy parliament speaker; the second deputy speaker's post went to Ishkhan Zakarian of the pro-presidential Bargavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia, BH) party. Prosperous Armenia has the second-largest parliament faction (25 deputies) and on June 6 signed a formal memorandum with the HHK on creating a coalition government. (RFE/RL)

Azerbaijani foreign minister: Azerbaijan ready to start consultations on Gabala RLS 8 June Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov announced his country is ready for talks on Russia-US joint use of the Gabala Radar Station. He made the announcement to reporters in Baku today, a REGNUM correspondent reports. Mammedyarov noted that the issue had been touched upon during his talks with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. According to the Azerbaijani foreign minister, he told Lavrov that Moscow cannot discuss usage of the radiolocation station together with the United States without taking into account official position of Baku. The minister confirmed that Moscow had addressed Baku asking to tackle the issue and Azerbaijan is ready to start consultations in a two- or three-party format. According Elmar Mammedyarov, the cooperation will cause problems in the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations. (


8 June

Police in Stavropol arrested a man on June 6 in connection with the killing during the night of June 2-3 of two students at a local university. The suspect was identified as Andrei Ruslanovich Keylin, who is reportedly from Cherkessk in the neighboring Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic. The killings triggered a storm of protest from members of Stavropol's Slav community who have called for the expulsion from the city of all Chechens on the apparently mistaken assumption that the killings were committed by Chechens in revenge for the death of a Chechen student during a mass brawl on May 24. (

Tajikistan bans lavish weddings, funerals, outlaws promotion banquets 9 June Continuing an anti-luxury campaign Tajikistan President Rakhmon on Friday signed a law cracking down on lavish weddings and funerals, his press service said. Earlier parliament unanimously voted for the bill submitted by the president. The president said spending on such events was “brazen and shocking.” Yearly the country spent some US$ 1 billion on them, the sum that exceeds the state budget of this one of the poorest countries in Central Asia. The law limits weddings to a single day, imposes limits on a number of guests and forbids promotion banquets among other estrictins. The law sets heavy fines. Violators will have to pay a fee from about US$ 600 to US$ 2,900 in the country with the average monthly wage of US$45 in local equivalent. Previously the Tajik leader outlawed gold teeth, criticized those carrying mobile phones and called on people to follow his suit and drop Russian-sounding endings "ov" or "ev" from their surnames. (Itar-Tass)

Russia, Georgia to work for stabilisation of relations 9 June Russian President Vladimir Putin and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashavili have decided to instruct their foreign ministries to work together towards the stabilisation of bilateral relations. Russia welcomes the meeting between the presidents of the two countries, Presidential spokesman Alexei Gromov said on Saturday. He also stressed Georgia’s readiness to look for solutions to existing problems in bilateral relations. “The president of Georgia spoke about his interest in lifting restrictions on Russian-Georgian trade and economic ties and mutual trips by citizens,” Gromov said. “Putin, in reply, stressed that further progress is possible and will depend on real changes in Russian-Georgian relations and the atmosphere in general,” he said. “Saakashvili lauded the implementation of earlier agreements on the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia and noted that ‘there are no problems there’,” Gromov added. (Itar-Tass)

SOUTH OSSETIAN TAKEN HOSTAGE BY GEORGIAN POLICE DIES 9 June One of the two citizens of South Ossetia, who were attacked by Georgian police in the village of Tsnelis, Znaur district of South Ossetia in small hours on Saturday, was taken hostage and died from bullet wounds, the head of the unrecognised republic’ s information committee, Irina Gagloyeva, told Itar-Tass by phone. “Another citizen of South Ossetia despite multiple wounds managed to escape and has been taken to a hospital in Tskhinvali,” she said. Gagloyeva described Georgia’s actions as “provocations” and “one of the elements of its policy towards South Ossetia.” “It tries by these actions to exert psychological influence on South Ossetia’s population,” she said. Earlier in the day South Ossetian Interior Minister said “two citizens of South Ossetia were wounded – one get head and chest wounds, and another – a leg wound.” “Georgia’s 2,500 law enforcers cordoned border with South Ossetia and the Georgian Interior Ministry instructed them to provoke clashes with South Ossetian law enforcers by all means,” he said. (Itar-Tass)

Russia's VEB, Kazakhstan's Kazyna to form direct investment fund 10 June Russia's Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Activity [Vnesheconombank] and Kazakhstan's Sustainable Development Fund Kazyna plan to form a direct investment fund with a charter capital of up to $1 billion. VEB and Kazyna signed a memorandum of understanding at the International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg on Sunday. The parties are in preliminary talks on possible investment in wood-working, energy, transportation infrastructure and logistics projects in Russia and in Kazakhstan. Kazyna is a state management company coordinating national development institutions. (Interfax)

Bernard Fassier: New ways of settling Nagorno Karabakh conflict proposed to Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents 11 June New, alternative ways of settling the Nagorno Karabakh conflict have been introduced to the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents and the sides will need to discuss them, OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Bernard Fassier announced adding that “the talks will be continued.” Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan told reporters: “The meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, Robert Kocharyan and Ilham Aliyev was a serious one, but they have not come to agreement.” The Armenian minister noted that the negotiation process will be continued at the level of foreign ministers; meanwhile, he found it difficult to predict whether the presidents would have a meeting by the end of the year. In his turn, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov also noted that the sides presented their positions during the meeting; however, there has been no breakthrough. The meeting took place on June 9 and lasted three hour, Armradio reports. (

Azeri radar unlikely to substitute NMD in Eastern Europe - NATO official 11 June NATO has hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative to use the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan in interests of the European missile defense system; however, the alliance doubts that this could be a substitute to the deployment of elements of the U.S. national missile defense in the Czech Republic and Poland. "The radar in Azerbaijan is likely to be too close to supposed sources of missile threats to be as efficient as a radar deployed farther from them," Assistant NATO Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning John Colston told Interfax on Monday. At the same time, he stressed the fact that the issue "should be studied in details." "However, we hail the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to switch from confrontation to cooperation rhetoric," the NATO assistant secretary general said. (Interfax)

Russia not building new bases in Abkhazia – ministry 11 June Spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Col. Vyacheslav Sedov has denied Georgian claims that Russia plans to begin construction of a new military base in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. "Russia is not building any new military bases on Abkhaz territory. People who obviously do not want to see normalization of Russian-Georgian relations likely came up with those statements," Sedov told Interfax-AVN on Monday. "In fact, Russia is fully complying with the obligations contained in the Istanbul agreements to withdraw its bases from Georgia," he said. "The withdrawal schedule has been coordinated with Georgia, and we are fully complying with it," the colonel said. (Interfax-AVN)

Azerbaijan, Russia agree on mutual TV broadcast 12 June Azerbaijan and Russia have agreed on the mutual broadcast of state television programs, Chairman of the Azerbaijani National Television and Radio Council Nushiravan Magerramli said in a Tuesday interview with the AzerTaj news agency. A draft intergovernmental agreement to that effect was discussed at a Moscow meeting of working groups last week, and will be signed by July 10, when the validity of the current contract on Russian television broadcast in Azerbaijan is due to expire. The new contract will be signed for the period of three years, he said. “Russia has accepted the Azerbaijani proposal of parity broadcast,” Magerramli said. It was agreed that Russia’s RTR channel will continue to broadcast its programs to Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan’s AzTV-1 will broadcast its programs to Russia. The official explained the choice of the two channels with the intergovernmental nature of the agreement. AzTV-1 will telecast its programs to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Dagestan, where Azerbaijanis have compact residence. The contract says that the sides shall not broadcast programs, which call into question each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. In exchange for further broadcast of Russia’s Channel One programs in Azerbaijan, Baku will offer the broadcast of its Public Television, Magerramli said. The working groups will have their next meeting in Baku in late June. (Itar-Tass)

Azeris, Turkmen may work on disputed field 12 June Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will continue talks on a disputed oil field, which is believed to hold 50,000 tons of oil. The field in question is the Kapaz field, which is known as Serdar in Turkmenistan. Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev said Tuesday the issue could be solved on the basis of principles used to solve the demarcation of the Caspian Sea. "I think we should negotiate with Turkmenistan on the basis of these principles," he said. The comments, made Tuesday, were reported by Azeri Press Agency. Aliyev said once the issue was resolved, the two countries could jointly explore the field. (UPI)

Kazakhstan wants Russia to stop Proton launches from Baikonur 13 June Kazakhstan wants to amend a space accord with Russia and stop any further so-called one-time launches of Proton-class launch vehicles from the Baikonur pad. Astana cites as its motivation the environmental damage caused by Proton launches, national space agency head Talgat Musabayev told the Kazakh government on Tuesday. Musabayev said, however, that Russia should be allowed to go ahead with the last Proton-M launch on July 7. (Interfax-AVN)

Kyrgyz Prosecutor's demands arrest of Kyrgyz MP 13 June

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor’s Office has filed an official request to the Kyrgyz parliament, demanding arrest of Kyrgyz deputy Sultan Urmanayev, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement circulated on Wednesday. Criminal proceedings against Urmanayev were instituted for the act of mass shooting at a peaceful demonstration held in the Aksyisky district in the Jelal-Abad region in March, 2002. Urmanayev was governor of the Jelal- Abad region then. Six people who took part in the peaceful demonstration were killed. Amanbek Karypkulov is another former high-ranking figure connected with a criminal case opened into the Aksyisk drama. In 2002, Karypkulov headed the administration of the Kyrgyz president and was presumably linked to ordering the mass shooting code-named Typhoon that ended in bloodshed. (Itar-Tass)

Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan unite to fight drugs traffic 13 June Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan said they had agreed to strengthen their joint efforts to prevent cross-border drug trafficking. Ministers of public security and counter-narcotics from the three countries said in a joint statement issued here that they would act to reduce the threat posed by Afghanistan's opium."This transnational threat requires a cooperative solution," they said following a meeting in Vienna hosted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The three countries also agreed to take steps to improve border management, the statement said. These will include building more physical barriers, boosting law enforcement capacity, launching joint counter-narcotic operations, better communication, and increased intelligence-sharing, for example about trafficking routes, traffickers and suspicious shipments. There was also a call on countries to which the drugs are sent, in particular the European Union and RussiaBottom of Form

, to seek to curb demand. In addition, the three countries called on states where chemicals essential for producing heroin from opium poppy are produced to tighten up their procedures. As the opium problem is best controlled at the source, chemical precursors should likewise be controlled first and foremost where they are produced, the statement said. Opium from poppies grown in Afghanistan is the source of 90 percent of worldwide heroin production. (AFP)
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