Friday, June 18, 2010

NEWS: RFE/RL Caucasus Report, 5/14/2010 - 6/18/2010 (

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 .

Was Karachayevo-Cherkessia President Aide's Killing Intentional? The details that have emerged to date of the killing on May 12 of Fral Shebzukhov, a Cherkess aide to Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) President Boris Ebzeyev, are sketchy. But certain tentative conclusions can still be drawn, based on the killers' modus operandi and the albeit unconfirmed reports that Ebzeyev intended to name Shebzukhov prime minister. More
TV Journalists In Ingushetia Resign En Masse Over 40 television journalists employed by Ingushetia's Committee for State Radio and TV have submitted their resignations to protest what they describe as the "unhealthy working atmosphere" under Tamara Malsagova, whom Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov named to head the committee last year. More
Putative PM Candidate Slain In N.Caucasus Fral Shebzukhov, whom Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic President Boris Ebzeyev is said to have nominated as the republic's next prime minister, was gunned down on the street in Cherkessk yesterday evening by three masked men. The killers managed to escape. More
New Draft Georgian Constitution Unveiled The state commission established last summer to draft further amendments to Georgia's already much-amended constitution approved on May 11 by a vote of 31 to 10 with two abstentions a new draft constitution that, if adopted, will augment the powers of the prime minister at the expense of the president. More
Embattled South Ossetian Premier Wins Reprieve The Russian leadership, which is funding postconflict reconstruction in the unrecognized republic of South Ossetia, has apparently warned President Eduard Kokoity against continuing to try to force the resignation of the republic's government, which is headed by Vadim Brovtsev, a Russian businessman from Chelyabinsk. More
Karachayevo-Cherkessia Still Without A New Prime Minister Eleven days after the deadline imposed last month by North Caucasus Federal District head Aleksandr Khloponin, it is still unclear who will succeed Vladimir Kayshev as prime minister of the Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic. More
Armenia, Azerbaijan Mark Republic Day Armenia today marked the 92nd anniversary of the establishment of the first independent Armenian republic that emerged from the Russian Empire at the end of World War I. More
Albright Presents Strategic Concept For NATO’s Next Decade Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the chair of an expert committee advising NATO, says that the alliance must work quickly to become versatile, efficient, and capable of operating far from home and in partnership with others. Presenting the expert group's findings in New York, Albright also said that no one should be excluded from NATO membership -- even Russia. More
Armenian-American Group Seeks Scrutiny Of Bryza Nomination An influential Armenian-American group has called for careful scrutiny of the record of a diplomat nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. More
Armenia Cops Fired Over Suspect Death A local Armenian police chief and three officers have been fired over the death of man in custody. More
Armenia Ruling Party: No Early Election A senior member of Armenia's ruling party has downplayed the possibility of early elections, which have been called for by the opposition. More
Armenian Government Reworks Bill On Foreign Language Schools Armenian Education Minister Armen Ashotian says a revised government bill allowing a limited number of schools in Armenia to teach in a foreign language is due to be submitted to parliament for approval soon. More
Watchdog Amnesty Harsh On 2009 Watchdog Amnesty International has warned that human rights abuses continued to plague the world in 2009, with torture or ill treatment, unfair trials and imprisonment, and restrictions on free speech among the most common violations. More
UN 'Civilizations' Forum In Brazil Hopes To Reframe Debate Over Global Culture, Politics The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations will host its third-annual forum in Rio de Janeiro from May 27-29. The conference, titled "Bridging Cultures, Building Peace," will be attended by high-level dignitaries including President Lula da Silva of Brazil, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More
Saakashvili: Threat From 'Outside' Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today oversaw Georgia's first military parade since the 2008 war with Russia and warned against what he called a continuing threat from "outside forces." More
Embattled North Ossetian Mufti Steps Down The Spiritual Board of Muslims of North Ossetia (DUMSO) accepted late on May 24 after a prolonged discussion the letter of resignation submitted by the republic's mufti, Ali-haji Yevteyev, four days earlier. More
Armenian Opposition Holds Rally In Second-Largest City Thousands of activists from Armenia's main opposition alliance held a public rally in the country's second-largest city, Gyumri, during which they denounced the policies of the current government and called for snap elections. More
Victims Decry 'Mild' Sentence In Armenian Child-Abuse Trial Armenian rights activists and abuse victims are unhappy with the light sentence given to a teacher convicted of child abuse. More
Georgian Local Elections Focus Of Intense Scrutiny In the wake of two successive elections in 2008 that many opposition parties claim were rigged, the key issue is not so much one of policy, or even who will win most votes where, as of procedure: will President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement use all the administrative resources at its disposal to preserve its hold on power, or it will it allow a vote that is truly free, fair, and democratic? More
Chechen Leader Challenges FSB Data On Insurgents Addressing a recent meeting of senior law enforcement officials, Ramzan Kadyrov questioned periodic estimates released by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) of the number of Islamic insurgents currently based in Chechnya, and that organization's criteria for determining who falls into that category. More
Armenian Investigators Point To Suicide In Police Custody Case An Armenian law-enforcement body investigating a suspicious death in police custody has largely endorsed police claims that the man committed suicide. More
Armenia Praises Karabakh Elections Armenia has hailed the parliamentary elections in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory as a sign of the breakaway Azerbaijani region's strengthening democracy. More
New Political Party Formed In South Ossetia The founding congress of a new political party named Iron (Ossetia) took place on May 22 in Tskhinvali, capital of the unrecognized breakaway republic of South Ossetia. More
History, BP Oil Spill Haunt Caspian Sea As BP struggles to contain the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, a wary eye is being cast on offshore drilling projects around the world, especially in the Caspian Sea, where observers warn of severe consequences if steps are not taken to improve environmental oversight. More
Georgian Flights To Moscow Resume Georgian Airways resumed charter flights today between Tbilisi and Moscow. More
EU, East Meet Before Summit Ahead of a milestone EU-Russia summit next week, leading diplomats from the 27 EU governments met their counterparts from the six members of the bloc's Eastern Partnership -- Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan -- in what was meant by its Polish hosts as a show of support. More
Georgian Party Accused Of Intimidation Some Georgians are accusing the ruling United National Movement of intimidating people not to vote for opposition parties in the upcoming local elections. More
Armenia Raps EU Over Karabakh Resolution Armenia has criticized the European Parliament for demanding the "withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan" in its latest resolution on the South Caucasus. More
Georgian Opposition Accuses Government Of Bribery The leader of the Georgian opposition Labor Party has accused the government of offering him 4 million euros (about $5 million) in exchange for his party's withdrawal from upcoming local elections. More
Nagorno-Karabakh Holds Elections Parliamentary elections are taking place today in Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway region of Azerbaijan populated mainly by ethnic Armenians. More
Mufti With Insurgent Contacts Resigns The Muslim leader in the Russian republic of North Ossetia has offered his resignation following controversial statements he made in an interview earlier this month. More
Georgian Energy Mogul Arrested Geno Malazonia, the president of JSC Energy Invest, was arrested and charged with fraud, tax evasion, and abuse of power. More
EU: Nagorno-Karabakh Elections Illegal The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has warned that planned parliamentary elections in the disputed Caucasus enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh on May 23 will not be legal. More
Controversial Armenian TV Bill Passes First Hurdle The Armenian parliament has approved a controversial bill which local press groups say enables the government to tighten its grip on broadcast media. More
Azeri Mosque Threatened With Closure Azerbaijani police have warned the clergy of a Sunni mosque outside of Baku that it may be closed because it is not officially registered. More
Georgian Daily Wants To See State Deal With Russian Energy Company The Georgian newspaper "Rezonansi" and the Young Lawyers Association (AIA) said they will continue their legal case against the Energy Ministry for not revealing details of a deal it made with a Russian energy company. More
Armenian Growth Accelerates In April Official statistics show that Armenia's ongoing economic recovery accelerated further in April. More
Azerbaijani Rights Activists Seek International Help On Torture Cases Dozens of Azerbaijani nongovernmental organizations have signed a petition urging international organizations to support an investigation into torture cases in Azerbaijan. More
Prosecutor Shot Dead In North Caucasus A local deputy prosecutor has been shot dead in Russia's republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, the latest victim of ongoing violence in the North Caucasus. More
Armenian Vow To Combat Torture Armenian Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has told visiting Council of Europe officials that security officials are doing more to stop the mistreatment of criminal suspects. More
Suspended Sentence For South Ossetian Opposition Journalist A journalist in Tskhinvali, the capital of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, has been given a two-year suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of illegal possession of weapons. More
Armenian Journalist Released From Jail An Armenian journalist and her brother who were detained while covering an attempted opposition protest on May 31 have been released from custody. More
Karachayevo-Cherkessia Parliament Approves New Prime Minister The Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) parliament today approved by a vote of 47 in favor and 15 against the candidacy of Muradin Kemov as prime minister. More
The Yalta Syndrome And Its Critics Cooler heads in the Tbilisi foreign policy establishment are not as concerned about the U.S. "reset" with Russia as all the noise suggests. More
Georgia's Ruling Party Wins Vote Georgia's Central Election Commission today released the final results of municipal elections that show President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement won the May 30 poll. More
KBR Supreme Court Again Calls For Abolition Of Balkar NGO The Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR) Supreme Court ruled on May 31 that the unofficial Council of Elders of the Balkar People (SSBN) is an extremist organization and should be abolished. More
Tatar Police Colonel Named Karachayevo-Cherkessia Interior Minister Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on May 31 named Zhaudet Akhmetkhanov to head the Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) Interior Ministry. Akhmetkhanov, who is 42, has spent his entire career in the police force and has held leading positions in the criminal police in Kazan and the Criminal Investigation Department of Tatarstan's Interior Ministry. More
The EU's Declaration Of Impotence What is worrying is the degree to which Brussels' bureaucratic horizons seem to shape (and limit) its conception of foreign-policy making. That the removal of special representatives could badly wrong-foot partner governments in unstable regions never seemed to enter the heads of Ashton or her team. More
Armenian Media Groups Demand Journalist's Release Armenia's leading media associations have demanded the immediate release of a young reporter arrested while covering an opposition protest in Yerevan. More
Unusually Quiet Elections Mark End Of Revolutionary Cycle In Georgia Georgia's May 30 municipal elections marked the end of a political cycle that began in the fall of 2007, when the country's opposition collectively decided that it needed to mobilize popular discontent to unseat President Mikheil Saakashvili. More
In Georgia and Moldova, Worries That EU Special Reps -- And Their Protection -- May Vanish Officials in Moldova and Georgia are reacting with concern to speculation that the EU is poised to remove special representatives appointed to their regions. If confirmed, the change would signal a major downgrading in the EU's strategic interest in both Chisinau and the countries of the South Caucasus. More
Yerevan School Principal Fired Over Sex Abuse Scandal The principal of a Yerevan boarding school for children with special needs has been dismissed following the imprisonment of a former teacher convicted of sexually and physically abusing female students. More
EU-Russia Summit To Steer Forward Course, Without Rocking The Boat At an EU-Russia summit today in Rostov-na-Donu, the Russians will be looking to secure guarantees of visa-free European travel. The EU, for its part, will be looking for opportunities to guide Russia's economic development. Both goals are a reflection of a pragmatic new stage in EU-Russian relations -- the desire to look to the future, while keeping controversy to a minimum. More
Azerbaijan Amends Election Law Azerbaijan's parliament today passed controversial amendments to the country's election law. More
Medvedev Convenes Third Meeting Of Armenian, Azerbaijani Presidents Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met on June 17 on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the ongoing search for a solution to the Karabakh conflict. More
Azerbaijan Evaluates Cost Of Nagorno-Karabakh War Azerbaijan says the total amount of damage suffered by the country due to the war with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been estimated at 70 billion manat ($87 billion). More
Armenian Opposition To Stage Sit-In Opposition activists have said they will proceed with plans to stage a sit-in in cental Yerevan on June 18 to demand the release of imprisoned opposition figures. More
Karabakh Leadership Skeptical About Armenian-Azerbaijani Summit The Armenian leadership in Nagorno-Karabakh says today's meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will not help find a resolution for the disputed region. More
CSTO: No Peacekeepers For Kyrgyzstan Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization says it will not deploy peacekeepers to Kyrgyzstan but may send security "specialists." More
'No Changes' To Armenia Broadcast Bill An Armenian government official says there will be no further changes to a controversial bill on broadcasting that has been criticized as giving the government too much control over the country's airwaves. More
Free Press in North Caucasus Continues to Deteriorate Information in Russia’s North Caucasus republics is tightly controlled by the state and the threats to independent media there continue to grow, according to prominent Russian journalist Fatima Tlisova. More
International Organizations Slam Armenian TV Law International organizations have criticized controversial Armenian legislation that media freedom groups say will allow the government to retain its control over Armenia's broadcast media. More
Armenia Fined For 'Inhuman Treatment' The European Court of Human Rights has fined Armenia's authorities 16,000 euros ($20,000) for what it regards as "inhuman" treatment of an Armenian businessman who died in prison last year More
Holier Than Thou: Ramzan Kadyrov And 'Traditional Chechen Islam' Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, arguably the most powerful -- and dangerous -- regional leader in the Russian Federation is resorting to increasingly draconian measures to impose his own eclectic vision of what constitutes "traditional Chechen Islam," along with the code of behavior, ethics, and dress he considers one of its key components. More
Flooded Azerbaijani Villagers Want Dam Dismantled Residents of villages in central Azerbaijan still flooded from last month's heavy rains are seeking greater help from the government to lower the water level. More
Militants, Troops Killed In Daghestan Seven suspected militants and four interior ministry troops have been reported killed in two incidents today in the restive Russian republic of Daghestan. More
U.S. Jewish Groups 'No Longer Opposed' To Armenian Genocide Recognition "Washington Times" journalist Eli Lake argues that Turkey can no longer count on the backing of the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States in its efforts to block a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. More
Armenian Opposition To Hold Sit-In An Armenian opposition group says it will proceed with plans to stage a sit-in at Yerevan's central square. More
Opposition Criticizes Ter-Petrossian Two opposition leaders today criticized opposition leader and former President Levon Ter-Petrossian. More
Russian President Arrives In Chechnya Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in Chechnya in a surprise visit following a series of attacks on police officers and civilians in the North Caucasus region. More
EU Envoys In South Caucasus, Moldova Facing End Of The Road The EU special representatives for South Caucasus and Moldova are likely to lose their jobs on August 31 under a proposal tabled by the bloc's top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton. Despite a late fightback by some mostly Eastern European member states keen to retain both envoys, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg are set to nod through Ashton's plans. More
FSB Captures 'Legendary' Ingush Field Commander FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov announced on June 9 that the Ingush field commander known as Amir Magas (whose true identity remains unclear) was apprehended during a special operation earlier that day in Malgobek. The website of the Ingushetian chapter of the North Caucasus insurgency,, confirmed Magas's capture early on June 10. More
Armenian Government To Maintain Grip On Broadcast Media The Armenian authorities appear determined to maintain their long-standing control over the country's broadcast media by means of newly enacted legal amendments criticized by local press freedom groups and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. More
Armenian Parliament Upholds TV Bill The Armenian parliament has passed in the second and final reading a controversial bill which local press freedom groups say will fail to end strong government influence on the country's broadcast media. More
Karabakh Parliament Elects Leadership Nagorno-Karabakh's new parliament convened for the first time and elected its leadership today, more than two weeks after being elected in a vote criticized by Azerbaijan and the European Union. More

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