Saturday, October 24, 2009

NEWS: RFE/RL Caucasus Report 23 Oct 09 (

10/23/2009 4:11:18 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 .

Top U.S. Official Meets With Azerbaijani Officials, NGOs Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Tina Kaidanow met with Azerbaijani officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations in Baku, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports. More

Videos Mocking Georgian Patriarch Stir Controversy Several video clips mocking the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, have triggered a wave of condemnation in Georgia, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports. More

Muscovites Commemorate Dubrovka Hostage Victims Muscovites are commemorating victims of the 2002 "Nord-Ost" hostage crisis and storming by Russian security forces of the Dubrovka Theater, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports. More

Armenia, Turkey Differ Over Karabakh's Impact On Relations Talking to RFE/RL about the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement protocols signed in Zurich on October 10, an Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Armenia and Turkey began the rapprochement process with a mutual understanding that progress in bilateral relations should proceed without preconditions. More

Who Has An Interest In Discrediting Georgia's Patriarch? Video footage posted last week on Georgian websites and on YouTube showing Georgian Patriarch Ilia II with a voiceover of insulting comments about Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has triggered a storm of criticism from the Georgian authorities, opposition parties, and the Georgian Orthodox Church. More

Georgian Parliament Approves New Probe Into First President's Death The Georgian parliament approved on October 20 a proposal by opposition deputy Djondi Baghaturia to form a commission that will conduct a repeat investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Zviad Gamsakhurdia in 1993. The commission will also deliver a formal "legal and political assessment" of the events that preceded Gamsakhurdia's violent ouster in early January 1992. More

Armenia Separates Turkish Rapprochement From Karabakh Dispute Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosian says Turkish-Armenian rapprochement protocols have nothing to do with the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports. More

Havel Expects Biden To Reassure Region As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden begins his travels through Central Europe, arguably the region's loudest voice for strong trans-Atlantic ties, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, is up-front with RFE/RL about what he expects to hear: a clear vision of American policy for the region. More

Armenia Thanks U.S. For Help In Normalizing Turkey Relations Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian has told visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Tina Kaidanow expressed gratitude on behalf of the Armenian nation to the U.S. leadership for its contribution to the normalization of relations with Turkey, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. More

Ingushetian Parliament Endorses Russian As Prime Minister Ingushetia's parliament voted on October 20 with only two abstentions to approve republican Security Council Secretary Aleksei Vorobyov as prime minister. More

Karachayevo-Cherkessia President Suffers Two Tactical Defeats On October 14, Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) President Boris Ebzeyev suffered his second tactical defeat within the space of a week when the republic's parliament rejected for the fourth time his proposed candidate to represent the republic in the Federation Council. More

Azerbaijan Could Scuttle Nabucco Over Turkey-Armenia Deal Will the Nabucco pipeline become a casualty of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement? Azerbaijan's president says that Turkey pays too little for its gas and that Baku would seek alternative routes. If he's not just bluffing, analysts say it could be the death knell for the Western-backed project and provide a big boost to Russia's South Stream. More

Daghestan's Moscow Representative Denies Advocating Death Squads Gadji Makhachev, who is Daghestan's formal representative in Moscow, issued a statement on October 18 distancing himself from comments he was quoted as having made at a roundtable discussion in Moscow two days earlier of the repeated incursions into Daghestan by Chechen militants in the summer of 1999. More

Saakashvili Is Ready For His Close-Up In March, Russian television aired “Olympius Inferno,” a made-for-TV thriller based on the first days of the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008. That is, based on the Kremlin’s version of the start of the war. Now Hollywood is taking a crack at the subject, RFE/RL's Russian and Georgian services report. More

Turkish-Armenian Deal Leaves Unanswered Questions Last weekend's agreement between Turkey and Armenia to establish diplomatic relations has been hailed around the world as an important breakthrough. But the accord is only the first step on a long road toward full reconciliation, which still faces major obstacles. More

Will Serzh Sarkisian's Biggest Gamble Pay Off? A little less than three years ago, Serzh Sarkisian, then Armenian defense minister, nailed his foreign-policy colors to the mast by publishing a commentary calling for Turkey and Armenia to establish diplomatic and good-neighborly relations with no preconditions on either side. Now, thanks in large part to Sarkisian's personal commitment and with the support of the United States, the two countries are tantalizingly close to attaining that goal. More

Georgia Rejects Russian Accusations Of Collaboration With Al-Qaeda In North Caucasus The Georgian Foreign Ministry and parliament speaker David Bakradze issued separate statements on October 14 rejecting as "absurd" Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) head Aleksandr Bortnikov's allegation the previous day that the Georgian intelligence service is collaborating with Al-Qaeda in arranging the transit of mercenaries and weapons via Georgia to the North Caucasus resistance in both Chechnya and Daghestan. More

Turkey And Armenia Meet On The Field Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul met to watch a World Cup game together just days after their nations reached a landmark accord reestablishing diplomatic ties. The meeting marked the next stage in the two countries’ ongoing football diplomacy. More

Election Body Overrules Court In Daghestan Election Dispute On October 13, the city court in Derbent, southern Daghestan, heard complaints from Imam Yaraliyev and two other opposition candidates who demanded that the outcome of the mayoral election be annulled due to blatant interference and pressure by the authorities in support of incumbent Feliks Kaziakhmedov. The court called for suspending the vote count. But later that day the local election commission officially approved the results, giving Kaziakhmedov 67.5 percent of the vote. More

Video: Nagorno-Karabakh -- Dreams Of Youth For an entire generation of young Armenians, Nagorno-Karabakh is the only home they've ever known. The region split from Azerbaijan in a brutal conflict following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Born in war and raised in an uneasy peace, this generation is reaching adulthood and could see their world change yet again. Momentum is building for a final settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that could mean an end to Nagorno-Karabakh's isolation. It could also mean the return large numbers of Azerbaijanis displaced by the war. RFE/RL's Brian Whitmore traveled to the enclave and spoke to young people about their views on the conflict and their hopes for the future. More

Four Years After Nalchik, How Strong Is Insurgency In Kabardino-Balkaria? Four years ago, a group of desperate and badly prepared young Muslims in Kabardino-Balkaria launched simultaneous attacks on police and security facilities in Nalchik, the republican capital. The operation was a disaster: 95 young men were killed, of whom only 37 were actual fighters, according to "The Guardian" one week later quoted a witness to the fighting who recalled hearing one of the young attackers holed up in the security-service building yell to a comrade-in-arms, "How do you reload a grenade launcher?" More

What Does Turkey-Armenia Deal Mean For Karabakh? As Armenia and Turkey reestablish diplomatic relations, there is renewed momentum for a settlement in the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. That prospect has led to both hope and anxiety about what will happen if the delicate status quo that has existed for the past 15 years is changed. More

Both Sides Hijacked Georgia War Report The European Union has released its report on last year's August war in the Caucasus. The aim was to establish what happened, however the "facts" have been appropriated by both sides and misconstrued by the press. More

Independent Georgian TV Channel Under Pressure Mamuka Ghlonti, owner of the independent Georgian TV channel Maestro TV, told journalists in Tbilisi on October 7 that the Georgian authorities are exerting pressure on the country's major cable-television companies not to cooperate with him. Ten days earlier, Ghlonti had addressed an open letter to President Mikheil Saakashvili challenging his September 24 assertion to the UN General Assembly that "we have given opposition-controlled stations license to transmit across the nation." More

Experts Pan Georgian President's Economic Freedom Act On October 6, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili presented to parliament a draft Economic Freedom Act that, he explained, will impose constitutional constraints on the present and future governments' leeway to restrict economic freedom. While the parliament majority from Saakashvili's own United National Movement greeted that draft with acclaim, the opposition National Democratic Party questioned whether it can in fact be implemented, and economic expert Lado Papava dismissed it as "a combination of populism and traditional errors." More

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