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.