Saturday, November 06, 2010

NEWS: RFE/RL Caucasus Report, June 25, 2010 - November 5, 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 .

Abkhazia Does U-Turn Over Geneva Talks Abkhazia will not attend the next round of talks scheduled for July 27 in Geneva on security issues in the wake of the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war, Abkhaz presidential administration head Nadir Bitiyev announced on June 23.
Georgian Opposition Wants Saakashvili Barred From Becoming Prime Minister Representatives of Georgia's opposition Labor Party met on June 21 in Tbilisi with Avtandil Demetrashvili, chairman of the commission that drafted Georgia's proposed new constitution, but failed to persuade him to accept their alternative provision that would bar incumbent President Mikhail Saakashvili from assuming the post of prime minister after his second term expires in 2013. More
OSCE, EU Condemn Karabakh 'Armed Incident' The French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a toughly worded statement on June 21 condemning the reconnaissance mission by Azerbaijani forces late on June 18 across the Line of Contact separating Azerbaijani and Karabakh Armenian forces east of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic. More
Georgian Opposition Parties Realign In Wake Of Local Election Defeat The poor showing by opposition parties in the May 30 Georgian local elections, and the crushing defeat of opposition challenger Irakli Alasania in the Tbilisi mayoral ballot the same day, mark the third failure within three years of an all-out effort to change the balance of power in the country. 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

U.S. House Panel Backs Aid To Karabakh The House Foreign Aid Subcommittee also said in its decision on June 30 that the administration of President Barack Obama should also slightly increase U.S. aid to Armenia and maintain absolute parity in separate military funding for Yerevan and Baku. More
Georgian Teachers Fear Massive Layoffs Georgian teachers and their unions worry that thousands of teachers might lose their jobs before the start of the school year. More
Polish Airlines To Begin Regular Flights To Georgia Poland's national airline, LOT, will begin flights between Warsaw and Tbilisi as of September 1. More
Armenian Railway 'Still Readying' For Turkish Border Opening The head of Russia's state railway (RZD) says its Armenian subsidiary is continuing technical preparations for the possible opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and the renewed rail communication between the two countries. More
PACE Vote Mirrors Shift In Russia's North Caucasus Policy A PACE resolution differentiates clearly between the situation in Chechnya, on the one hand, and that in neighboring Ingushetia and Daghestan, on the other. More
Georgia’s Long Farewell To Stalin On the night of June 25, the monument to Josef Stalin in the city of Gori was removed. And where the statue previously stood, authorities will erect a memorial to the victims of Russian aggression and Soviet repression. The symbolism of these actions is completely obvious. But if this is all there is to it, then why was the operation carried out at night amid heightened security? More
Clinton On E. Europe, Caucasus Tour Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has embarked on a five-day trip to Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Along the way, Clinton will try to solidify strategic military cooperation, assure nervous allies of Washington's friendship, promote peaceful settlements of regional disputes, and champion democracy. More
Moscow Backs Yerevan Redevelopment The municipality of Moscow has reaffirmed a pledge to support a massive redevelopment project in Yerevan that the Armenian government says will require billions of dollars in investment. More
Armenia Ruling Parties Dispute Freedom House's 'Authoritarian' Tag Armenia's governing Republican and Prosperous Armenia parties have criticized the New York-based group Freedom House for branding Armenia a "semi-consolidated authoritarian" country. More
Europe Rights Official Chides Baku The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner has issued a report on Azerbaijan urging officials to protect freedom of expression in the country. More
IMF Unveils New Armenia Loan Package The International Monetary Fund has announced plans to provide Armenia with almost $395 million in fresh loans in the next three years. More
Armenia Names New Labor Minister Artur Grigorian, 40, was nominated by the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a junior partner in Sarkisian's governing coalition, and is the third person to hold the post in little more than a year. More
Karachayevo-Cherkessia Sets Up Group To Address Abazins' Grievances Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic President Boris Ebzeyev met on June 28 with leading members of four public organizations that represent the republic's Abazin minority to discuss how to resolve their grievances. More
Jailed Blogger To Attend Father's Funeral The Justice Ministry's penitentiary service told RFE/RL that Emin Milli would be released from prison for three days to attend the funeral of his father, Pasha Abdullayev, who died on June 28. More
Armenia Seeks Chinese Funding For Rail Link To Iran An Armenian government minister says Yerevan is seeking as much as $1 billion in loans from China to finance a railway link to neighboring Iran, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. More
Last Man Standing? One of the last remaining statues of Josef Stalin has been removed from the central square in the Soviet dictator's hometown of Gori, Georgia, but his likeness continues to stand tall in the northern Tajik village of Asht. More
Gori Residents Divided Over Stalin Residents of the hometown of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin are divided over the controversial removal of his statue from the city's main square. More
Donald Trump Plans Georgia Investments A public relations manager of the Silk Road Group told RFE/RL on June 25 that Donald Trump's group will jointly work with the Silk Road Group to invest in business projects in Tbilisi and the Georgian port city of Batumi. More
Armenian FM Chides Baku Over Karabakh Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has claimed the international community holds Azerbaijan primarily responsible for the latest upsurge in cease-fire violations around the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh. More
Demonstrators For Disabled Arrested In Baku Five Azerbaijani youths who were demonstrating in support of disabled people on the capital's sea-front promenade were detained this week by police. More
Abkhazia 'Temporarily Suspends' Participation In Geneva Talks Abkhazia will not attend the next round of talks scheduled for July 27 in Geneva on security issues in the wake of the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war, Abkhaz presidential administration head Nadir Bitiyev announced on June 23. More
Despite Boost In U.S. Support, Russia's WTO Bid Still Faces Opposition In Georgia U.S. President Barack Obama says Russia is on its way to winning full U.S. support for its long-delayed bid to join the World Trade Organization. But what the U.S. president failed to mention is that another WTO member, Georgia, has threatened to block Russian accession. How significant a threat does Tbilisi pose to Moscow's bid to join the global trade group? More

Georgia's Main Gas Pipeline Up For Grabs Georgia's parliament has now passed in the first reading a draft law on the privatization of state assets that abolishes existing restrictions on the sale of the main North-South gas pipeline. The Georgian opposition has already expressed concern that Russia might acquire a controlling stake in the pipeline, giving it huge economic leverage. Meanwhile, there is concern in Armenia, which receives a large share of its gas via that pipeline, that Azerbaijan, which already manages much of Georgia's gas distribution network, might seek to acquire it. More
Bank Of Georgia Sells Stake In Belarusian Bank The Bank of Georgia, the country's leading universal bank, says the International Finance Corporation has purchased a stake in the Belarusky Narodny Bank More
Armenia Tries 6 For Plot To Kill Tax Chief A Yerevan court has begun a trial for six men accused of plotting to assassinate Gagik Khachatrian, the head of Armenia's State Revenue Committee. More
Chechnya's Kadyrov Urges Militants To Surrender Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has announced that effective immediately, any militants who wish to lay down their arms and return to civilian life may inform law enforcement agencies via their families of their desire to do so. More
Azerbaijan's Donkey Bloggers Are Just The Beginning The Azerbaijani government sent a message to a new generation of opposition-minded youth who have courageously used Internet technologies to circumvent their government's stranglehold on the media: You can have your Turkish soap operas on YouTube, your 24-hour soccer channels and dating sites, but stay out of politics. More
Armenia Watchdog Chides Media YEREVAN -- Armenia's human rights ombudsman has described the situation regarding media freedom in the country as "worrisome" in a special report released today, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. More
Diaspora Tycoon To Build Armenian Schools An Armenian-American billionaire will provide $12 million to build and refurbish schools in Armenia, representatives of his foundation has said. More
Armenian Police Tried In Custody Death Four police officers have gone on trial in Armenia over the suspicious death of a man at a police station. More
Armenian Parties Disagree On Results Of Clinton Visit Armenia's leading political forces have offered differing assessments of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Yerevan. More
Azerbaijani Journalist Jailed Again Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev has been sentenced to prison for the third time. More
Clinton Concludes 'Reassurance' Tour of Russia's Neighbors U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has concluded a five-day tour through Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, on a trip meant to assure Russia's neighbors the U.S. is not abandoning them in favor of closer ties with Moscow. Did she succeed? More
U.S. 'Committed' To Georgia's Territorial Integrity U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has declared her "steadfast" support for Georgia and warned Russia against building military bases inside the country. Visiting the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, Clinton said the United States did not accept Georgia as part of a Russian "sphere of influence." More
Azerbaijan Presses Clinton On Nagorno-Karabakh U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Azerbaijan to seek a restart of peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh, repair frayed bilateral ties, and press the oil-rich Caucasus nation on human rights. More

Kabardino-Balkaria President Looks For Scapegoats With less than three months to go before his presidential term expires, Kabardino-Balkaria Republic President Arsen Kanokov has complained he is under pressure from unnamed rivals who, he claims, do not shrink from using "dirty methods" to discredit him. More
Is Azerbaijan Deploying IDPs To Crush 'Wahhabis?' Azerbaijani media have reported that several people, including two police officers, were injured during a large-scale brawl in the village of Shotlanly in the Terter district between local residents and internally displaced persons recently relocated there. More
A Year Later, Still No Closure In Chechnya Estemirova Killing One year has passed since rights campaigner Natalya Estemirova was killed, and friends and colleagues say they're losing hope of seeing justice done. More
Possible New Lease On Life For EU Reps To Caucasus, Moldova A broad consensus is emerging in the European Union to extend the mandates of the bloc's special envoys to various global trouble spots. More
Former Armenian Foreign Minister Takes Party Back, Calls For Radical Change U.S.-born Raffi Hovannisian, who served in 1991-92 as Armenia's first post-Soviet foreign minister, has been elected chairman of the ruling board of the opposition Zharangutiun (Heritage) party he founded in 2002. More
Georgia's Main Gas Pipeline Up For Grabs Georgia's parliament has now passed in the first reading a draft law on the privatization of state assets that abolishes existing restrictions on the sale of the main North-South gas pipeline. The Georgian opposition has already expressed concern that Russia might acquire a controlling stake in the pipeline, giving it huge economic leverage. Meanwhile, there is concern in Armenia, which receives a large share of its gas via that pipeline, that Azerbaijan, which already manages much of Georgia's gas distribution network, might seek to acquire it. More

Azeri Journalists Barred From Office Due To Debt Journalists from the opposition newspaper "Azadliq" were not allowed to enter the paper's premises today due to unpaid debts to a state-owned publishing house. More
Lawyers in Daghestan Demand Immunity From Police Violence The council of Daghestan's Chamber of Advocates has addressed an appeal to Interior Minister Major-General Ali Magomedov and Prosecutor-General Andrei Nazarov demanding immunity from police violence and guaranteed access to their defendants. More
Tabriz Demonstrators Demand Right To Education In Azeri Turkish On August 1, some 2,000 to 3,000 people demonstrated in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz to demand the right to be educated in Azeri Turkish and to condemn what they called "discrimination against Azeri Turks in Iran." More
Medieval Georgian Sites Placed On UNESCO Endangered List The Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, two jewels of medieval Georgian architecture, are under threat. That's according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), whose World Heritage Committee is holding its annual session this week in Brazil. More
U.S. In Armenia Opposition Meeting U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch has met with opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations. More
Umarov Bows Out As North Caucasus Emir Doku Umarov announced in a two-minute video statement posted on August 1 that he is stepping down as emir of the North Caucasus because he is "tired." More
Chechen Site Claims Umarov Steps Down An unofficial website that serves as a mouthpiece for insurgents in Russia's North Caucasus region says Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov has stepped down and appointed Aslambek Vadalov as his successor. More
The Kosovo Precedent Kosovo, as observers were unanimous to observe in the wake of the International Court of Justice's ruling, forms the tip of the iceberg of global separatism, and the ruling may well have opened Pandora's box. More
Kosovo Ruling Accelerates Erosion Of European Order The decision by a UN court on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence will not have immediate consequences. But it has become another element in the general erosion of the European order that has been ongoing since the end of the Cold War. And the long-term consequences of this erosion are impossible to predict. More
Funds For Conflict Victims In South Ossetia Disbursed To Army, Police The parliament of Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia has ruled to make available 50 million rubles ($1.65 million) from a bank account opened for private donations in support of persons who suffered during the August 2008 war. More
Angry Displaced Persons Threaten To Renounce Georgian Citizenship A group of some 20 Georgian internally displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war are continuing their protests against the Georgian authorities' plans to move them from Tbilisi to alternative accommodation in two villages in the western district of Zugdidi. More
Are Chechen Officials Playing Up Summer Camp Contretemps To Score Political Points? Senior Chechen officials and Russian law enforcement bodies are on collision course over a recent incident at a summer camp in Krasnodar Krai in which Chechen teenagers and local Russians clashed. More
Azerbaijani President Takes Up Twitter Another world leader is utilizing the power of social networking. First it was Medvedev, now it's Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. More
Jailed Azerbaijani Blogger's Appeal Rejected An Azerbaijani court has rejected an appeal by a jailed blogger seeking an early release from prison. More
Controversy Over New Georgian Draft Constitution Continues Georgian opposition parties, legal experts, and NGOs are continuing their last-ditch battle to prevent the formal adoption by parliament of a new draft constitution formulated in such a way as to enable President Mikheil Saakashvili to retain supreme power as prime minister once his second presidential term expires in 2013. More
Daghestan's Leaders Issue Ultimatum To Militants Senior officials in Daghestan issued a "final warning" last week to Islamic militants that if they refuse to lay down their arms, "they will be destroyed," a retreat from repeated earlier assurances by President Magomedsalam Magomedov. More
Abkhazia Does U-Turn Over Geneva Talks Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia apparently will, after all, send a delegation to attend the next round of internationally mediated talks in Geneva on security measures for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the wake of the August 2008 war. More
Eastern Europe's Frozen Conflicts Look To Kosovo Ruling While the International Court of Justice says has said its ruling approving Kosovo's declaration of independence is unique to Kosovo, the ruling is being regarded in more universal terms. And nowhere more so than by parties involved in secession crises or frozen conflicts themselves. More
Georgia Coming Back In From The Cold Georgia's opponents (or the opponents of the current government) have been fond of saying that the country is isolated and the West no longer supports us. After the diplomatic parade this month, it's much harder to make this argument. More

Former Armenian Officials Jailed For Accepting Bribes Two former senior Armenian Environment Ministry officials have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for corruption. More
The Little War That Actually Didn't Shake The World What were the results of the Russia-Georgia war of early August 2008? At first it seemed as if the war would overturn everything in the region and create a new global reality. But nothing of the sort actually happened. More
Following U-Turn, Umarov Turns On Udugov Two days after publicly disavowing as "completely falsified" the video clip in which he announced his resignation, self-styled emir of the North Caucasus Doku Umarov has ordered the "temporary suspension" of Movladi Udugov as director of the North Caucasus emirate's press service. A statement accused Udugov of "violating discipline" by the unauthorized posting on the website of materials "not intended for public distribution." More
Killer Of Ingush Editor Shot Dead A senior police official in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia who was convicted of killing the owner of an independent website has been shot dead. More
New South Ossetian Defense Chief Opposes Further Downsizing Of Armed Forces Two years after Georgia's defeat by Russian forces in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, a top Russian general has estimated as minimal the chances of a new Georgian assault on the region. But the Georgian breakaway region's Russian defense chief thinks differently. More
Four Arrested In Probe Of Armenian Officer's Death The Armenian Defense Ministry said four servicemen have been arrested in connection with last week's death of a junior army officer. More
Senate Panel Delays Vote On Controversial Nominee For U.S. Ambassador To Azerbaijan The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has postponed a vote on President Barack Obama's pick for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. The postponement comes on the heels of a confirmation hearing in which Matthew Bryza faced tough questions on his diplomatic record in relation to the ongoing conflict between Yerevan and Baku. More
Azerbaijan's Beach Bummer: Loophole Lets Businesses Charge Hefty Entry Fees This year, vacationers to Baku are having to pay fees ranging from $4 to $12 per day -- plus parking and other costs -- to gain access to the city's best beaches, which are being rented by private businesses. More
Umarov's U-Turn Doku Umarov has disavowed as "totally fabricated" a video clip in which he passed on leadership of the North Caucasus insurgency to a successor. More
Top Chechen Insurgent Called Moderate Akhmed Zakaev, once one of the top officials in the Chechen separatist government but currently living in British exile, has said that the man picked to take over the separatist movement is a moderate. More
Jailed Azerbaijani Activists Begin Hunger Strike Ten opposition activists sentenced for participating in an unsanctioned rally in central Baku on July 31 have declared a hunger strike. More

Military Base Attacked In Ingushetia Unknown assailants today launched an attack on a military base in the Sunzhensk district of Ingushetia in southern Russia. More
Armenian Central Bank Revises Up Economic Outlook Armenia's Central Bank has revised upward its forecast for economic growth this year, despite expecting a slight slowdown in the economic recovery in the second half of the year. More
Aliyev's Azerbaijani Empire Grows, As Daughter Joins The Game A single holding company controls nearly every aspect of Azerbaijan's airline industry and operates its own bank to boot. One of the bank's owners? President Ilham Aliyev's 21-year-old daughter. More
Chechen Commanders Rebel Against Umarov The contradictory statements posted to the Internet earlier this month in which Doku Umarov first announces and then retracts his decision to step down as commander of the North Caucasus insurgency have resulted in a split in its ranks. More
Azerbaijani Plane Crew Criticized Over Evacuation Delay The head of the Istanbul airport says the crew of an Azerbaijani plane that went off a runway failed to comply with emergency procedures for evacuating passengers. More
Azerbaijani Scientist Released From Iranian Prison An Azerbaijani scientist has arrived in Baku after being released from an Iranian jail after serving a two-year sentence for espionage. More
Turkmen Oil Enters BTC Pipeline BP Azerbaijan has announced that Turkmen oil is now flowing through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. More
Closer Military Ties With Armenia To Boost Russia's Regional Clout Russia looks set to strengthen its foothold in the South Caucasus by means of a new defense agreement with Armenia that will formally make it a guarantor of the country's security and pave the way for more Russian arms supplies to Yerevan. More
Displaced Georgians Protest Evictions Georgian Ministry of Refugees official Mariam Esaiashvili told RFE/RL that the ethnic Georgian families -- most of whom fled fighting between Russian and Georgian forces in 2008 -- were warned one month ago to vacate the building, which they occupied without official permission. More
Chechen Rebels Claim Gazprom Blast Chechen rebels have claimed responsibility for a small explosion three days ago near the Moscow headquarters of Russia's gas giant Gazprom. More
Medvedev Sacks Daghestan Minister Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed the interior minister of the North Caucasus republic of Daghestan. More
New Blueprint Proposed For Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia Writing in "The Moscow Times" to mark the second anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war, Moscow Carnegie Center Director Dmitry Trenin proposed a new approach to resolving the deadlock between Georgia and the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. More
Russia Deploys Missiles In Abkhazia Russia says it has deployed antiaircraft missiles in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, in a move greeted with alarm in Tbilisi. The move comes just days after a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the region, on the second anniversary of Russia's brief war with Georgia. More
Georgia's Lonely Unilateralisms RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas argues that Georgia appears resigned to a ritualistic contest of wills with Abkhazia and South Ossetia from which the latter may hope to gain respectability by association -- and taint Tbilisi's in the process. More
Armenian Ruling Party Slams Church Service In Turkey President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) today spoke out against Armenian participation in a landmark service to be held in a 10th century Armenian church in southeastern Turkey next month. More
Georgian Privatization Plan Falls Short The Georgian government's plan to raise some 170 million laris ($92.3 million) this year by privatizing state property is unlikely to be realized. More
Armenia Seeks Long-Range Weapons Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian says the Armenian government plans to acquire long-range, precision-guided weapons for possible armed conflicts with hostile neighbors. More
Four Jailed In Azeri Academy Killings An Azerbaijan court has handed down heavy jail sentences to four men found guilty of abetting a gunman who shot dead 12 people at the State Oil Academy in Baku last year. More
Eight Armenian Officers Discharged Eight Armenian officers have been discharged from the army and more than a dozen others demoted following seven noncombat shooting deaths last month. More
Interview: 'Many Americans Love Rumi...But They Prefer He Not Be Muslim' Ibrahim Gamard is a California-based sheikh of the Sufi Mevlevi order and has spent his life translating the poetry of the 13th-century Sufi mystic, Rumi. Murtazali Dugrichilov of RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service spoke to Gamard about why Rumi is so popular in the West and the problems of modern-day Sufism. More
Medvedev Visits Abkhazia On War Anniversary Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a surprise visit to the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia today on the second anniversary of Moscow's invasion of Georgia. More
Azerbaijani Exclave Cracks Down On Street Vendors Police in the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan detained some 30 women this week for selling food on the streets in violation of health regulations. More
Former Armenian Officials Jailed For Accepting Bribes Two former senior Armenian Environment Ministry officials have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for corruption. More
The Little War That Actually Didn't Shake The World What were the results of the Russia-Georgia war of early August 2008? At first it seemed as if the war would overturn everything in the region and create a new global reality. But nothing of the sort actually happened. More
Following U-Turn, Umarov Turns On Udugov Two days after publicly disavowing as "completely falsified" the video clip in which he announced his resignation, self-styled emir of the North Caucasus Doku Umarov has ordered the "temporary suspension" of Movladi Udugov as director of the North Caucasus emirate's press service. A statement accused Udugov of "violating discipline" by the unauthorized posting on the website of materials "not intended for public distribution." More

Ex-Soviet Leaders Meet In Yerevan An informal summit of a Russia-dominated military alliance of seven ex-Soviet states has kicked off in Yerevan, with its participants discussing ways of providing a "more effective response" to emergencies. More
Georgian Airline Begins Tbilisi-Moscow Charter Flights Georgia's private Airzena airline has started charter flights from Tbilisi to Moscow. More
Deal Signed On Extending Russian Military Presence In Armenia Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, have signed a deal extending Moscow's lease of a military base in the South Caucasus country by 24 years. More
Iranian 'Spy' Collapses In Armenian Court An Iranian citizen being tried in Armenia on charges of spying for Azerbaijan collapsed in court in Yerevan on August 19 while delivering his defense speech. More
Azeri Court Upholds Blogger Sentences Azerbaijan's Supreme Court has upheld the November 2009 sentences given to jailed bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada. More
Daghestan Deterioration Epitomizes Medvedev's North Caucasus Dilemma Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week vented his exasperation with the two men he appointed at the beginning of this year to key positions in the North Caucasus for their failure to stabilize Daghestan, where attacks by Islamic militants now take place almost on a daily basis. More
Jailed Georgians On Hunger Strike Two prisoners in Georgia have declared a hunger strike until the government frees those who they say are political prisoners. More
Chris De Burgh, Mikheil Saakashvili, And 'Russian Vodka' After the meeting Saakashvili and Ghimpu visited an open air concert of the British singer Chris de Burgh. More

In One Azerbaijan Village, 'Carrying Water Is Women's Work' In Azerbaijan, the ambitious wife and daughters of President Ilham Aliyev illustrate how powerful some women have become in the energy-rich Caspian state. But hundreds of kilometers away, in the rural villages of central Azerbaijan, the lives of women are dramatically different. More
Armenian Praise For Clinton Letter Government and opposition parties in Armenia have responded positively to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pledge to promote democracy and human rights in the country. More
Baku: Armenian Statement 'Laughable' Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry has rejected as "laughable" a claim by Yerevan that Russia could back Armenia in case of a new conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. More
Armenia Warns Baku Over UN Resolution Armenia's Foreign Ministry has warned Azerbaijan against trying to push through the United Nations General Assembly a fresh resolution that accuses Yerevan of occupying Azerbaijani lands and thereby hampering a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. More
EU Pressures Azerbaijan On 'Donkey Bloggers' Nice to see the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton take a stand on the case of Azerbaijan's "donkey bloggers," who in 2009 received jail terms, ostensibly on hooliganism charges. More
Georgian IDPs Sew Mouths Shut In Protest Four internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia have sewn their mouths shut in a protest at being moved from dwellings in Tbilisi More
Pressure On Abkhaz Leader Intensifies An Abkhaz weekly has accused the Georgian breakaway region's leader of considering new concessions to Russia, including allowing for the return to Abkhazia of thousands of Georgians who fled to the Russian Federation during the 1992-93 war and subsequently acquired Russian citizenship. More
Armenian Opposition Concerned About Russian Deal Two members of the opposition Zharangutiun (Heritage) party have expressed concern over Armenia's new military accord with Russia. More
The Wider Implications Of The Russian-Armenian Defense Deal Russia may soon be able to play a role it has always coveted, that of a principal security provider and peace guarantor in the former Soviet space. If its serious about exercising that role, it will need to refocus its strategy from an essentially negative one to a positive one -- conflict prevention and conflict resolution. More
Armenian Agriculture Slow To Recover Armenia's economic recovery slowed further last month due to a sharp fall in agricultural output. More
The Shadowy Life Of Magomedali Vagabov Russia's National Counterterrorism Committee says security forces have killed Magomedali Vagabov, a top militant suspected of organizing the suicide bombings on the Moscow Metro in March. More

Abkhazia: Refugee Return 'Impossible' The de facto prime minister of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia says the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia is not possible in the current political circumstances. More
Armenian Opposition Rally In Key Yerevan Square Banned Yerevan city authorities have banned the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) from holding a rally in a main square but will allow it to take place at another location. More
Is Armenia Russia's Partner Or Pawn? Richard Giragosian argues that a new agreement may deal a further blow to Armenian sovereignty by deploying additional Russian border guards to Armenia's other borders, with Iran and Georgia, if not Azerbaijan. More
Monster Azerbaijani Flag Is No More...For Now We blogged yesterday about the unfurling of a huge new flag in Azerbaijan, which sits atop the world's tallest unsupported flagpole. More
Nagorno-Karabakh Marks Anniversary Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh today marked the 19th anniversary of the disputed enclave's de facto secession from Azerbaijan and pledged Baku will never resume control of their territory. More
Russia Intensifies Focus On Misuse Of Funds In South Ossetia No less a figure than Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has arrived in Tskhinvali in connection with the ongoing investigation into the embezzlement of funds Moscow provided for postconflict reconstruction in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia in the wake of the Russian-Georgian war. More
Azerbaijan Unfurls Huge National Flag With much pomp, the Azerbaijani government has unfurled a huge new flag, one of the largest in the world. More
Tense Days As Medvedev Visits Baku Moscow has sought to regain influence in the strategically important South Caucasus, and observers say Dmitry Medvedev's trip to Azerbaijan may lend insight into the Kremlin's long-term goals in the region. More
Umarov Names New Daghestan Front Commander Self-styled leader of the Caucasus emirate Doku Umarov has named a commander from southern Daghestan to succeed Magomedali Vagabov (aka Seyfullakh Gubdensky) as emir of the Daghestan front. Vagabov had occupied that post for only five weeks before being killed in a counterterrorism operation in the village of Gunib in central Daghestan. More
Azerbaijan Says Five Killed In Karabakh Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry has announced that three Armenian and two Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed in clashes near the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. More
Experts Point To More Flaws In Georgian Constitutional Amendments The Georgian authorities appear determined to enact as swiftly as possible constitutional amendments that many opposition politicians are convinced are designed to prolong Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's hold on power after his second term expires in January 2013. More
Is There A Foundation For Peace Between Russia And Georgia? In order even to begin thinking about possible solutions, one must first imagine a Russia that is capable of genuinely recognizing Georgia's right to choose its own government and its own political course. But no such Russia is anywhere in sight. More
Russian Rights Activist Battles On In Chechnya A decade after Russia launched the second war in Chechnya, supposedly to bring order to a lawless region, Chechens are still being abducted, tortured, and killed -- this time mostly by the Kremlin-installed authorities who are firmly in charge. Kheda Saratova is one of the handful of human rights activists left who continue to risk their lives in Chechnya. More
Following The Tracks Of The 'Disappeared' on Georgia's Abkhaz Border As the world marks the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, Georgia's tiny Tsalenjikha District, along the Abkhaz-Georgian administrative border, remains fraught with anxiety over the fate of its missing persons. More
Kadyrov Is Warned: 'You Can Run, But You Can't Hide' Precisely what happened during the fighting early on August 29 in Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov's home village of Tsentoroi remains unclear. But the version promulgated by insurgency websites is far more credible than the contradictory accounts Kadyrov himself has given. More
Russia's 'Federation' Myth Having created a "management vertical" and having destroyed all vestiges of federalism and the first sprouts of local self-government, the Kremlin nonetheless must hang on to the old banner of the Russian "Federation." More

Obama, Aliyev Meet In New York As Washington Seeks To Improve Ties U.S. President Barack Obama and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 24. Washington is keen to repair frayed relations with Baku, but it faces a delicate balancing act. More
Armenian Coalition Parties Downplay Rumors Of Discord With 18 months to go before the next scheduled parliamentary elections, Armenian oligarch Gagik Tsarukian has called on his Bargavach Hayastan party (BHK), one of the two junior partners in the coalition government, to intensify its activities "at all levels." That appeal is likely to fuel persistent rumors of a rift between the BHK and President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). More
Armenia Officer Prosecuted Over Hazing Video Armenia's Defense Ministry has officially confirmed the identity of an army officer who was arrested last week for abusing his soldiers and is now facing up to five years in prison. More
Interview: Zakayev Says ‘No Irresolvable Issues’ Between Russia, Chechnya Akhmed Zakayev, head of the Chechen government in exile, returned to London on September 22 following his brief detention in Poland on an international arrest warrant requested by Russia. He says he will return to Poland when necessary to participate in an extradition hearing. Zakayev spoke with RFE/RL's Russian Service about his experience in Poland and about the status of the Chechen independence movement. More
Abkhaz Vice President Survives Fourth Assassination Attempt Aleksandr Ankvab escaped with minor shrapnel wounds when an unknown attacker opened fire with a grenade launcher on his home in Gudauta early this morning. It was the fourth (possibly even the fifth) attempt on his life in the past five years. More
Georgian Parliament To Debate Constitutional Amendments In First Reading The Georgian parliament will meet in emergency session to approve the draft amendments to the new constitution in the first reading, even before the Council of Europe's Venice Commission unveils its final assessment and recommendations. Meanwhile, Georgian opposition politicians continue to demand changes to the draft amendments. More
Azerbaijan -- A Questionable Partner For The West Instead of futile and shortsighted efforts aimed at pleasing the ruling Azerbainjani dynasty, Elmar Chakhtakhtinski argues that Western policies should focus on supporting those forces within Azerbaijan that promote the shared values of democracy and individual liberties. More
Karabakh Armenians Expect No Progress From Peace Talks The ethnic Armenian leadership of the Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh has downplayed expectations from talks expected between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in New York this week. More
Armenian Opposition Leader Snubs Government Invitation Armenian opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian snubbed President Serzh Sarkisian's invitation to attend an official reception dedicated to the country's Independence Day and celebrated it with his supporters instead. More
Nominee For U.S. Envoy To Azerbaijan Wins Key Backing U.S. President Barack Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan has cleared a key congressional hurdle by winning approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. More
Umarov Dismisses Renegade Commanders In a new 12-minute video clip posted today on and, North Caucasus insurgency head Doku Umarov announces the dismissal of the four Chechnya-based field commanders who withdrew their formal pledge of loyalty to him last month. More
Cross Controversy Mars Historic Church Service In Turkey For the first time in nearly a century, Armenians have been allowed to conduct a religious service in a recently renovated island church in eastern Turkey, in an event that Ankara intended as a show of tolerance toward its Christian minority. More
Tatar Strongman's Departure Boosts Chechen Ambitions To Become Top Muslim Region Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has been actively promoting his republic as Russia's new Muslim hub. The recent departure of Tatarstan's strongman leader has fired up his ambitions, but Tatars are not impressed. More
In Eurasia, Millions Worry About Beloved Buckwheat Devastating fires and droughts are not the only consequences of the heat wave that hit much of the former Soviet Union this summer. Millions of people across the region are now hit by another misfortune: buckwheat shortages. More
Church Controversy Fuels Fresh Turkey-Armenia Tensions A planned religious service at an Armenian church in eastern Turkey is threatening to descend into a major dispute between the two nations, still bitterly divided over their troubled history. More
What Does ‘Confederation’ Mean In The South Caucasus? Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has mentioned the idea of a “confederation” with Azerbaijan. The phrase quickly got people wondering what exactly the president had in mind. More
Poland Frees Chechen Exile Zakayev A police spokesman said Zakayev was detained on the street and taken under police escort to the prosecutors' office. More
Waving The Banner Of Azerbaijan's New Oil Boom Twenty years after Azerbaijan gained its independence, the country is experiencing a second oil boom. Only this time, Elnur Aslanov argues, Azerbaijan is in charge of its natural resources and Azerbaijani citizens are reaping the benefits. More
Chechen Separatist Leader In Poland In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, exiled Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev has confirmed that he is in Poland to attend the World Chechen Congress, despite plans by Polish police to arrest him. More
Hagiography, Bomb-Making, And A Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe Over the past five years, the North Caucasus insurgency has become adept at using the Internet as a powerful publicity tool to showcase successful attacks on Russian and pro-Russian military and security personnel, to promulgate its message of jihad, and to recruit new fighters to its ranks. More
Umarov Explains His Seeming Inconsistency North Caucasus insurgency leader Doku Umarov has released a video statement, posted on the insurgency websites and, explaining the circumstances in which he offered earlier this summer to step down from that post, and why he subsequently retracted that decision. More
Georgian President Rejects Venice Commission Criticism Of New Constitution Meeting with legislators from his United National Party, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said he "categorically disagrees" with specific criticisms by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission of the amendments to the Georgian Constitution currently under discussion. More
Chechen Diaspora Upstages Kadyrov The World Chechen Congress that represents the estimated 200,000 Chechens currently in exile in Europe and elsewhere plans to convene in Warsaw to draft a new strategy for ending the ongoing war in the North Caucasus before it escalates to the point that other countries and military blocs become involved. More
Is Armenia Russia's Partner Or Pawn? Richard Giragosian argues that a new agreement may deal a further blow to Armenian sovereignty by deploying additional Russian border guards to Armenia's other borders, with Iran and Georgia, if not Azerbaijan. More

Chechen Insurgency Commanders Appeal To Compatriots The three senior Chechen insurgency commanders who rescinded their oath of loyalty to insurgency commander Doku Umarov two months ago have issued statements explaining their motives for doing so. More
Azerbaijani Muslims Say Police Shaved Off Their Beards Muslims in the northern Azerbaijani district of Zaqatala say they have been harassed by local police for growing long beards. More
Azerbaijan Denies Armenia Murder Claim Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has publicly accused the Azerbaijani authorities of killing an Armenian man found hanged in Azerbaijani custody. More
Nagorno-Karabakh Flag Raised At UN, Briefly Azerbaijan's ambassador to the United Nations has complained that on September 27 Armenia raised the flag of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic on the premises of Yerevan's UN mission in New York. More
Ingushetia Militants Announce Moratorium On Killing Police In a statement dated August 29, but posted to the Internet only on October 5, the Ingushetian wing of the North Caucasus insurgency announced a moratorium on killing police officers. More
Nagorno-Karabakh To Reopen Airport Authorities in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh are pressing ahead with plans to reopen the disputed territory's sole civilian airport, which was shut down nearly two decades ago. More
Iran Defense Minister To Visit Baku Iranian Defense Minister Major General Ahmad Vahidi will visit Azerbaijan next week at the invitation of his Azerbaijani counterpart, Colonel General Safar Abiyev. More
Georgia Falsely Accuses Russia Of New Land Grab The Georgian Interior Ministry formally accused Russia of illegally occupying some 25 hectares of Georgian territory in the course of what it termed the demarcation of the border between Georgia and the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. But after inspecting the area in question, the EU Monitoring Mission issued a statement saying there was minimal evidence to substantiate the Georgian claims. More
Armenia Looks To 'Elite' Wheat Seeds Armenia has received nearly 1,000 tons of "elite" grain seeds from Russia needed for a government plan to nearly triple wheat production in four years. More
Court Backs Azerbaijan Vote Challenge The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the Azerbaijani government is guilty of having violated citizens' right to a free and fair election during parliamentary elections five years ago. More
Turks Pray In Ancient Armenian Cathedral Hundreds of Turkish nationalists have performed Muslim prayers in one of the most important historical Armenian churches in a high-profile ceremony authorized by Turkey's government. More
Azerbaijan Won't Recognize Harvard Graduate's Diploma "I had my master's degree diploma from Harvard and I was not able to verify that this diploma is a legal document in the republic of Azerbaijan," says Bakhtiyar Hadjiyev, an Azerbaijani citizen and public policy graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School. More
Change Of Tone From Georgian Veterans On Anniversary Of Sukhumi's Downfall A surprising sentiment expressed by former Defense Minister Gia Qarqarashvili -- that the bloody war of 1992-93 resulting in some 16,000 deaths was a tragedy for all, and that Abkhaz victims also deserve respect and remembrance -- was echoed in the statements of other public figures and politicians who gathered in Tbilisi's Victory Park to mark the anniversary of Sukhumi's downfall. More
Azerbaijan And The West: Beyond Interest, Toward Commitment The cooperation Azerbaijan forged with the West, especially with the United States, has over the years been characterized as strategic by many, short-term by some, and untruthful by others. However, even when relations reached an all-time low, Azerbaijan never wavered in its commitment to its partnership with the West. More
Kremlin's Ruling Party Boosts Ties Across The Former Soviet Union Following a model that seems to have worked in Ukraine, where a pro-Western president was replaced earlier this year by a pro-Russian one, United Russia is also now working actively with friendly parties in Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia -- all countries whose political vector is up for grabs in the next 18 months. More

Georgian Parliament Approves Controversial Constitutional Amendment Georgia's parliament has passed constitutional changes that will reduce the powers of the president in favor of the prime minister. Critics say this will allow President Mikheil Saakashvili to hold on to power by seeking the premiership after his second term ends in 2013. More
America For The Hard-Working At the press conference announcing indictments against 44 members of an Armenian-American criminal syndicate operating in 25 U.S. states, prosecutors repeatedly said that in its scope and efficiency the organization put “to shame” any classical mafia-style criminal structure. Reading the indictment, though, things seem a bit more prosaic. More
Satirical Blog In Azerbaijan Blocked The administrators of the "Scorpion" blog, who requested anonymity for security reasons, issued a statement on October 13 saying that the blog might have been blocked because its satirical commentaries, photos, videos, and caricatures have annoyed some government officials. More
Russian Foreign Ministry Lambastes Georgian Abolition Of Visas For North Caucasus Residents The announcement by Georgia that residents of Russia's seven North Caucasus republics may visit Georgia for 30 days without a visa has, predictably, met with a negative reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry. But Georgian opposition politicians too have questioned the wisdom of that move, as have some North Caucasus political figures. More
Armenian-Americans In Fraud Case U.S. law enforcement authorities have announced charges against 44 members of an Armenian-American criminal syndicate in a $100 million fraud case. More
Five Years On, Militants In Kabardino-Balkaria Take On New Role Five years after the multiple attacks by inexperienced, young fighters from the Yarmuk jamaat on police and security facilities, the trial of the 58 men identified as the surviving perpetrators is nowhere near its end. More
Daghestan Faces Multiple Threats, But Not Civil War No Russian Federation subject is currently riven by a greater number of political, economic, and religious conflicts than Daghestan. Yet there is no consensus as to which of those conflicts poses the most immediate and serious threat to the cohesion of that multiethnic and economically polarized society, let alone how to combat them either individually or collectively. More
Daghestan's Jamaats Decimated But Defiant -- And Still Deadly In recent months, Daghestan has overtaken Ingushetia as the most unstable and violence-prone North Caucasus republic, with militant attacks and counterattacks by security forces occurring almost on a daily basis. More
Abkhaz Prosecutor Identifies Two Possible Motives For Mosque Shooting The Prosecutor-General's Office of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia has identified two possible motives for the drive-by shooting in Gudauta in which one man was killed and two wounded as they left the building that serves as the local mosque. More
Iran Speaker Praises Armenia Ties Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has praised his country's deepening relations with Armenia and described them as important for regional security during an official visit to Yerevan. More
Iranian Defense Minister In Baku Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi arrived today in Baku on a two-day visit to discuss expanding bilateral military cooperation and regional security. More
Armenian-Turkish Relations Depend On People, Not Protocols Richard Giragosian says that the best hope for real normalization is on the lowest level, people-to-people exchanges instead of state-to-state negotiations. More
Armenian Ruling Party: No Karabakh Bill Armenia's ruling Republican Party (HHK) says it will reject an opposition bill obliging Yerevan to formally recognize the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state if it is voted on in parliament. More
One Year On, Turkey-Armenia Rapprochement Stalled On October 10, 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed two protocols aiming at normalizing relations. The signing of what many political pundits termed a “historic” deal took place in Zurich. But a year on, the future of the protocols remains unclear, as no parliamentary ratification of the documents has taken place in either country. More
Is Khloponin The Right Man For The North Caucasus? The Kremlin envoy's penchant for 19th-century imperialist policies, his clear pro-Russian and pro-Cossack stance, allied with his spectacular ignorance of the troubles that plague the North Caucasus, may prove disastrous for the future of the Russian Federation. More

Russia To Host Fresh Karabakh Talks The presidents of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are to meet next week for talks on resolving the long-standing dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. More
Armenian Suit Targets Vote Crackdown A senior Armenian opposition official says he does not expect a Yerevan court to accept a case filed by more than 100 supporters charging security forces with violations during protests two years ago that resulted in deaths and injuries. More
Former Armenian President Hopes for Prisoners Release Former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian says he is optimistic that those of his supporters still serving prison terms for their participation in the post-election violence in March 2008 will be released very soon. More
Georgian Jail For Russian Trespasser Kazbeg Dzugkoev, who is from Vladikavkaz in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, was detained in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month and sentenced on October 21. More
Despite Official Measures, Bride Kidnapping Endemic In Chechnya Bride abductions are an endemic phenomenon in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In Chechnya alone, rights activists say as many as one in four marriages begin with the woman being kidnapped and forced to wed against her will. More
Georgia Opens Visa-Free Travel In Caucasus Tbilisi's unilateral lifting of visa requirements for Russians living in the North Caucasus has angered the Kremlin, while Georgians who live near the border say Russia should follow suit. More
Georgia Gets A More Democratic Constitution, Though The Process Is Not Perfect Ghia Nodia says opinions about amendments to Georgia's constitution proceed from two radically opposed points of view -- one side proceeding from a consideration of the political future of President Mikheil Saakashvili and the other looking at the content of the changes themselves. More
Grozny Attack Underscores Chechen Insurgents' Military Capabilities There has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the suicide attack on the parliament building in Grozny. But there can be little doubt that it was planned and carried out by the same group of veteran Chechen field commanders who were responsible for the equally audacious attack on Ramzan Kadyrov's home village. More
Umarov Again Lambastes Dissident Field Commanders Self-styled Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov has issued a new denunciation of the four senior field commanders who rescinded their oath of loyalty to him two months ago, and whom he has since stripped of their respective commands. More

Azerbaijan's Ruling Party Set To Sweep Parliamentary Vote With widespread reports of intimidation against opposition sympathizers and new visa rules that will keep many foreign observers out of the country on voting day, Azerbaijan is preparing for parliamentary elections that few believe will bring any change in the oil-rich country. More
New Georgian Opposition Party Under Pressure Georgia's newest opposition party took shape less than a month ago, and has still to hold its founding congress. But already the brother of one of its five leaders has been arrested on fraud charges, two of its activists have been arrested and accused of perpetrating explosions in Tbilisi, and someone opened fire on the son and daughter-in-law of a third. More
Interview: Top U.S. Diplomat Discusses Regional Developments, Abuses, Stalemates, And Cooperation Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon sat down with RFE/RL for a wide-ranging interview on the U.S. position on everything from the jailed bloggers in Azerbaijan to Ukraine's improving relationship with Moscow, Georgia's right to territorial sovereignty, to Russia's role in brokering a deal over Nagorno-Karabakh. More
Stefan Fuele's Revolution That Never Was A small revolution came close to taking place in the European Union right about now -- only to dissolve into the kind of self-doubt so characteristic of the bloc of late, leaving behind only the barest ripple among (mostly bemused) officials. More
Georgia: 13 'Russian Spies' Arrested The former Soviet republic of Georgia says it's arrested 13 people accused of spying for Russia, including four Russian citizens. More
Six Things You Need To Know About Azerbaijan's Elections On November 7, Azerbaijan will hold its fourth parliamentary elections since independence in 1991. More
Same Procedure As Every Five Years: Azerbaijan Elects A New Parliament Azerbaijan's voters will elect a new parliament for the fourth time since the country became independent in 1991, and as most longtime observers anticipated, this year's election campaign has replicated many of the shortcomings of earlier ballots. More
Armenia Hands Over Azeri Prisoner Armenia has handed over an Azerbaijani civilian to Baku and received the body of an Armenian, in the first swap under a Russian-brokered deal aimed at easing tensions. More
Risk Of New Karabakh War Persists Despite Astrakhan Summit On October 27, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev convened a meeting in the south Russian city of Astrakhan with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The three-hour talks yielded a formal agreement on an exchange of prisoners of war held by both sides and the return of the bodies of those killed in recent clashes. More
Four Baptists Still Detained In Azerbaijan Baptist church officials say four believers detained in northeastern Azerbaijan on October 31 after a police raid on a harvest celebration have still not been released. More
Preliminary Chechen Census Findings Unveiled On November 2, Chechnya became the first federation subject to make public the preliminary results of last month's Russian census, but what do the numbers really show? More
Bear Dies After Mistreatment In Azerbaijan A British tabloid reports a caged, "sad-eyed, starving" bear in the small northern Azerbaijan town of Gabala, has died after being forced to drink cola and eat leftover sandwiches. More
What Is Georgia’s Strategy In The North Caucasus? What is the point of Georgia’s new visa-free policy in the North Caucasus? Is the point, as critics suggest, that Saakashvili wants to annoy Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin without giving much thought to the consequences? Or is this a more thought-out, long-term strategy? More
U.S. Embassy In Armenia Clarifies Biden's Genocide Comment The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has issued a statement about an online video in which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian told him not to "force" the issue of the Armenian genocide during Turkish-Armenian reconciliation negotiations. More
Defining 'Terrorism' In The North Caucasus The Chechen authorities have taken advantage of conflicting interpretations of precisely what kind of attacks should be classified as "terrorism" under Russian law to refute recent criticism of incidences of terrorism in the North Caucasus and the inability of local police to counter it. More

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