The government's interests in the Barskoon incident are clear. Kumtor is a joint-venture between the Kyrgyz government and the Canadian gold mining company Cameco Corporation, with the government holding a two-thirds interest of the venture. Thus, it is understandable why the government has consistently sought to minimize the hazards associated with the spill.
With the formality of reelection behind him, Uzbekistan's leader, Islam Karimov, says he is setting his sights on improving the country's economic fortunes.
Official economic statistics in Uzbekistan paint an upbeat picture. In a New Year's address, for example, Karimov claimed that GDP increased 9.5 percent in 2007, with industrial growth reaching 12.1 percent.
Elections these days in Central Asia offer few real choices. And there is little reason to hope that existing regional patterns will change in the near future. The Uzbek presidential elections of January 9, 2000, will likely end in much the same manner as did the vote staged November 6 in neighboring Tajikistan, in which incumbent Imomali Rakhmonov received a farcical 96 percent of the vote.
The first article in this three-part series (posted 12/08/99) described the course of the Spring Border Crisis between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in early 1999, and examined the effects on the population of the Kyrgyzstani part of the Ferghana Valley and the response of the Kyrgyzstani political opposition.
The cause of the blaze is still unclear. The senior spokesman for the KIBHR and the fire's principal victim, executive director Evgenii Zhovtis believes that no explanation, however sinister or benign, should be ruled out.
Kyrgyzstan, a relatively sleepy and remote republic in the Soviet era, now finds itself at the epicenter of the global narcotics trade. How the Kyrgyz government, acting in concert with the international community, responds to the security threat posed by trafficking could have a significant impact on the region's development.
Tensions in Dagestan have receded somewhat since last week, when overwhelming Russian force compelled a group of rebels led by Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev to withdraw from villages they had occupied in southwestern Dagestan. The new government of Vladimir Putin has portrayed the episode as a decisive victory for Moscow over Islamic separatism, and this is true to a certain extent.