Friday, October 09, 2009

BLOG: RFE/RL Caucasus Report from (

10/9/2009 5:52:15 PM A review of RFE/RL reporting and analysis about the countries of the South Caucasus and Russia's North Caucasus region. For more stories on the Caucasus, please visit and bookmark our Caucasus page .

Russia Facing Resistance On CIS's Southern Flank Representatives of the CIS are holding a summit in the Moldovan capital today, but most of the Central Asian presidents won't be in attendance. The presidents of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan instead sent lower-level delegations. Focusing on the three Central Asian states that make up the CIS's southern frontier, we examine how, by skipping the summit, they might be exhibiting their discontent with Russia. More

Efforts To Stage-Manage Elections Fuel Tensions In North Caucasus Daghestan's President Mukhu Aliyev is reportedly sparing no effort to secure the reelection on October 11 of the incumbent mayor of the southern town of Derbent, Feliks Kaziakhmedov. In Karachayevo-Cherkessia, candidates for the post of mayor of the town of Karachayevsk have demanded that acting Mayor Umar Uzdenov be disqualified from the ballot (also on October 11) on the grounds that his registration as a candidate is invalid, and that the presidential administration is pressuring voters to cast their ballots for him. More

EBRD's Chief Economist Assesses Conditions In Central, Eastern Europe Erik Berglof, the chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, joined other officials from international financial institutions at meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund this week in Istanbul, where one of the central topics was the global financial crisis. In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, he discusses how Central and Eastern European countries are faring amid the crisis. Berglof also discusses the conditions that the IMF is attaching to loans that it is giving to governments in the region. More

Low Turnout Hints At CIS Woes The mood ahead of the latest gathering of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States is tense. Four of five Central Asian leaders have declined to attend. Georgia will be conspicuously absent. And host Moldova's pro-Western prime minister has dismissed the CIS as "not viable." More

Turkey Deal A Tough Sell For Armenia's President Many among Armenia's 5.7 million-strong diaspora see rapprochement with Turkey as a betrayal. As President Serzh Sarkisian nears the end of a four-country tour to drum up diaspora support for the thaw with Ankara, he must navigate a mosaic of deep mistrust, historical grievances, and bitter tensions. More

After Russia-Georgia Report, A Sense Of 'What Now?' In the wake of last week's EU report on the Russia-Georgia war, many in the West are wondering what can be done to prevent the conflict from repeating itself. For answers, RFE/RL's Georgian Service spoke to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas and Ron Asmus of the German Marshall Fund. More

Russia Rejects Trade-Off With Turkey On Recognition Of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus In Sukhumi on October 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected media speculation that Russia may reach an agreement on formally recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in return for Ankara's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. More

Ingushetian President Dissolves Cabinet, Fires Prime Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov dismissed Prime Minister Rashid Gaysanov and the entire republican government on October 5, citing as the reason for doing so corruption and ministers' failures in resolving socioeconomic problems, including in agriculture. He named Security Council Secretary Aleksei Vorobyov acting prime minister, while the remaining ministers will continue to discharge their duties pending the naming of a new cabinet. More

Ten Alleged Georgian Mutiny Participants Retract Guilty Pleas Ten of the 41 men charged in connection with the purported mutiny at the Mukhrovani military base near Tbilisi on May 5 retracted their pleas of guilty on September 30 and refused to testify further. It is not clear why they did so; before the trial began, then human rights ombudsman Sozar Subari told RFE/RL that his office sought to clarify reports that at least some of the defendants had been beaten and/or tortured. More

Homeless Stage Protest In South Ossetia Between 60 and 200 Ossetians whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia gathered on September 30 outside the government building in Tskhinvali to protest the delay in providing them with new accommodation. More

Shevardnadze Talks About German Reunification Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was a major force behind reforms that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the anniversary of German reunification, Shevardnadze talks to RFE/RL's Georgian Service about his role and the tempest that threatened "had Germany not been united without bloodshed." More

Lessons Georgians Should Draw From War Probe Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili says "our duty to both Georgian and international opinion is to confront this reality and try to move on from there." More

Tony Judt On 'One Of East Europe's Great Mistakes' The future of the EU, Russia's relations with Europe, the course of American foreign policy. All have dominated headlines in recent weeks, and all are issues that renowned European historian Tony Judt has spent a lifetime analyzing and writing. Judt, who is director of the Erich Maria Remarque Institute at New York University, sat down with RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher for a broad-ranging interview about the strength of the European Union, Russia's ambitions, and what Central and Eastern Europe should expect from Washington. More

Azerbaijan Rejects Call For Probe Of Journalist’s Death A Baku district court rejected on September 29 a demand by the widow of Talysh newspaper editor Novruzali Mamedov to open a criminal investigation into the circumstances of his death in prison last month. More

EU Report On 2008 War Tilts Against Georgia An international report into the causes of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war suggests that both parties share the blame for the long-simmering conflict. But the report's conclusion that Georgia started the hostilities means that Russia seems to have achieved its main objective for this round in the post-war standoff. More

Moscow Snubs European Rights Court On Chechnya Human Rights Watch has accused Russia of repeatedly ignoring decisions by the European Court of Human Rights on Chechnya. The U.S.-based rights group said in a report released this week that Russia's failure to investigate and punish abuses under the court's rulings is fueling "unchecked violence" in the North Caucasus. More

Sharing The Blame A long-awaited report on the causes of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 will strike a delicate balance, EU officials say. Brussels now appears keen to turn the page and move on with talks between Georgia, Russia, and Georgia's breakaway regions. More

Armenian Parties Join Forces Against Draft Agreements With Turkey The widespread public outcry in Yerevan triggered by the publication one month ago of two draft protocols intended to pave the way for the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey shows no sign of abating. More

Key Defendant In Georgian Mutiny Trial Pleads Guilty Thirteen of the 41 people currently on trial in Tbilisi on charges of seeking to overthrow Georgia's leadership have concluded plea bargains with the prosecution. The 13 include one of the alleged ringleaders, Gia Gvaladze, on whose testimony the charges against a second purported ringleader, Koba Kobaladze, are based. Five of the 13 are charged with knowing about the planned insurgency in advance but failing to alert the relevant authorities; seven face charges of insubordination. More

Georgian President Advocates Direct Mayoral Elections In his September 24 address to the UN General Assembly, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili delivered an implicit warning to toe the line to two members of the parliamentary faction of his United National Movement who have queried the expediency of direct elections for the post of Tbilisi mayor. Saakashvili affirmed that the Georgian leadership is committed "to the direct election of all mayors in a few months' time." Local municipal council elections and elections for the mayor of Tbilisi are provisionally scheduled for May 30, 2010. More

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Grilled Over Bloggers Case When Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov appeared at a seminar at Columbia University in New York on September 22, students, activists, and journalists (including RFE/RL's Baku bureau chief Khadija Ismayilova) used the rare opportunity to question him intensively about the case of the "hooligan" bloggers. More

Prominent Oppositionists Join Forces For Tbilisi Ballot Irakli Alasania, who stepped down as Georgian ambassador to the UN in December 2008 and now heads the opposition Alliance for Georgia, and Sozar Subari, whose five-year term as human rights ombudsman expired earlier this month, will join forces to run in the Tbilisi mayoral and municipal council elections tentatively scheduled for May 30, 2010. Both men were previously close and loyal supporters of President Mikheil Saakashvili, but now criticize his apparent indifference to election fraud and egregious human rights violations on the part of the Interior Ministry and security services. More

Georgia Mutiny Trial Adjourned The trial of 41 men accused of participating or conniving in the May 5 mutiny by a tank division based at Mukhrovani, near Tbilisi [add link to blog story of May 5], was adjourned on September 19 after Gia Gvaladze, former commander of the Delta special assignment force and one of the presumed ringleaders, said he wished to engage a new defense lawyer. His current lawyer said Gvaladze planned to retract his earlier testimony and make a new statement exonerating his co-defendant, former National Guard commander Major General Koba Kobaladze. More

Aussies Outraged Over Kadyrov's Horses Chechen leader and horse-racing enthusiast Ramzan Kadyrov has once again provoked outrage from human rights activists -- this time in Australia -- as he prepares two of his personal horses to race in the upcoming Melbourne Cup, according to Australian press reports. More

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