Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NEWS: RFE/RL Caucasus Report 2/2/2010 (rferl.org)

2/2/2010 4:57:01 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 .

Armenia Police Drop Charges On Activists Armenian police have dropped the cases against three opposition activists due to a lack of evidence, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. More
'He Asked For A Blessing From His Family Members' Two Azerbaijani soldiers last week shot and killed four officers on their base before allegedly turning their guns on themselves. The incident was the latest troubling reminder of the state of the Azerbaijani Army, which observers say is rife with corruption, hazing, and abuse. More
Azeri President's Brother Sues Journalists The brother of President Ilham Aliyev has filed a lawsuit against two journalists at the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports. More
Georgia Satellite Channel Claims Kremlin Pressure Took It Off The Air Georgia's Russian-language television channel, First Caucasian, says it is being taken off the air by its France-based satellite provider due to pressure from the Kremlin. More
Is Ramzan Kadyrov's Star On The Wane? Just a few months ago, Ramzan Kadyrov's position as Chechen Republic head appeared unassailable. He was even named in December as a possible candidate for the post of federal official responsible for the entire North Caucasus. But since the start of the year, he has incurred veiled criticism from both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In addition, he has been the subject of damaging allegations from media outlets both in Russia and abroad. More
Georgian Offer Of Afghan Transit Unlikely To Tempt NATO Georgia this week revived the idea that it could become a bridgehead for a NATO transit corridor through Central Asia to Afghanistan. The idea was first floated a year ago, but has been ignored by the United States and NATO, which currently supply their forces in Afghanistan via routes crossing Pakistan and Russia. More
U.S. Envoy For Eurasian Energy Explains Goals, Strategy For Region The White House's Special Envoy for Eurasian energy has laid out the U.S. government's policy strategy for the region, and says the key to its success will be engagement. More
Six Dead In Shooting At Azeri Military Base Six servicemen are dead and two more wounded after two soldiers went on a shooting rampage on an Azerbaijani military base near the border with Armenia. More
Georgia Unveils 'Strategy On Occupied Territories' The Georgian government has made public its strategy with regard to regaining control over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Like successive draft peace proposals that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili presented since his election in 2004, it is phrased in such a way as to impress the international community, rather than to address the existential fears, and win the trust of, the population of the regions in question. More
MEP Sees Stronger EU Role In Caucasus Should the European Union take a more active role in the South Caucasus? Evgeni Kirilov, a Bulgarian member of the European Parliament and member of the parliament's delegation dealing with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, thinks it should. More
What Georgia Can Learn From The Melian Dialogue Georgians must not just continue to look to distant powers to solve their problems with Russia. They must address them themselves. That requires understanding of what both Georgians and Russians want, and seeking ways of building confidence and cooperation. More
Smear And Loathing In Tbilisi: Mudslinging Targets Rising Georgian Political Star Georgian media with ties to President Mikheil Saakashvili have launched a mudslinging campaign against opposition figure Irakli Alasania. The apparent reason: Alasania promises to be a strong candidate in Tbilisi’s mayoral elections this May, and is expected to use that post as a staging pad for a presidential bid. More
UN’s Role In Georgia Has ‘Fundamentally Changed’ Johan Verbeke is the former head of the now-defunct UN observer mission in Georgia and was the UN’s special representative at the Geneva talks initiated after the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Verbeke has since been named Belgium’s ambassador to the U.K. On the eve of a fresh round of talks in Geneva on January 28, Verbeke spoke to RFE/RL correspondent Olesya Vartanyan about the possibility of restoring observer missions in Georgia and the continued challenges regarding Russia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. More
Springing To Hitler's Defense In July 2008, just a couple of weeks before the Russia-Georgia war, Sakartvelo TV, affiliated with the Georgian Defense Ministry, quoted Adolf Hitler. More
Armenian, Azerbaijani Presidents Agree On Preamble To 'Madrid Principles' Meeting in Sochi with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, reached verbal agreement on the wording of the preamble of the most recent revised version of the "Madrid Principles" that constitute the outline of a more comprehensive Karabakh peace agreement. More
Confusion Surrounds Former Armenian President's Visit To Iran Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian travelled to Iran last week for a two-day visit that has been variously described as "private" and "unofficial," or, alternatively, undertaken as the result of a "state invitation" extended by the Iranian leadership. More
North Ossetian Prison Imam Accused Of Links With Insurgency Djimmi Tanduyev, whom Muslim inmates of a North Ossetian jail selected a year ago as their imam, has been placed in solitary confinement for three months after being found in possession of materials urging Muslims to join the jihad and pictures of Chechen resistance commanders Shamil Basayev and Doku Umarov. More
Can New Medvedev Vision Bring Stability To North Caucasus? Russia observers have spent a great deal of time trying to explain the rationale behind President Medvedev's appointment of Aleksandr Khloponin to oversee the new North Caucasus Federal District. But questions still remain. More
Did Georgian Leadership Try To Influence Ukraine Election? Several prominent Georgian oppositionists have expressed concern at the political implications of two telephone conversations posted online which could be construed as evidence that the Georgian leadership sought to influence the January 17 Ukrainian presidential election to secure a victory for Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. More
Medvedev Creates New North Caucasus Federal District Russian President Dmitri Medvedev yesterday divided the Southern Federal District to create a new North Caucasus Federal District comprising six of the seven North Caucasus republics, plus Stavropol Krai. More
Azerbaijan Remembers 'Black January' Twenty years ago today, on January 20, 1990, Soviet troops stormed Baku by order of the Kremlin in an ultimately failed attempt to save Communist rule and put down Azerbaijan's independence movement. More
Armenia-Turkey: Who Will Blink First? Over three months have now elapsed since the signing in Geneva on October 10 of two protocols on establishing and developing "good neighborly" diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. But the prospects that either parliament will ratify those protocols in the near future remain slim. More
Saakashvili Announces Yet Another Volte Face In Georgia's Defense Policy After years of progressive increases in military spending and raising the maximum number of armed forces personnel, the Georgian leadership has apparently decided to bite the bullet and comply with NATO's recommendations to downsize. More
Georgian Parliament Elects New Election Commission Chairman In a move that will only fuel the antagonism between the authorities and the embattled and embittered opposition, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has engineered the election as chairman of the Central Election Commission of a professional number-cruncher whom opposition parties suspect of answering to powerful Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. More
Who's Out To Exacerbate Chechen-Ingush Tensions? Over the past several years, relations between Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia, which from 1934-44 and again from 1957 to June 1992 constituted a single Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, have become increasingly strained and acrimonious. More
Springfield In The Caucasus “The Simpsons” has just celebrated 20 years on the air, and it’s not only U.S. viewers who have felt the impact of the groundbreaking cartoon. Its mix of social satire and slapstick has made deep inroads into the former communist bloc. More

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