We have told you about Tashkent’s drug-planting tricks against pesky activists. In Uzbekistan, it seems, their children should suffer too.
A source close to activist lawyer Habibulla “Oybek” Ilmuratov has told EurasiaNet.org that Ilmuratov’s son, Vladislav, was sacked from his job in the Yangiyul town tax inspectorate on November 1 as part of a campaign against his father.
The source said: “Vladislav’s boss called him up and politely said, ‘I’m being pressured, I’m sorry but you should understand. I’m going to sack you, otherwise our organization will have problems. As a taxman, I’m also worried you may be set up and someone may plant something on you.’
“This has been done to deprive Ilmuratov of any source of money to pay for his lawyers,” the source said. Vladislav, 27, has worked for three and a half years without any complaints from his superiors, but was sent on “vacation” when the charges were brought against his father this summer.
Though the activist is already in the dock, the authorities have beefed up the campaign against him: Vladislav’s very own tax department is now pressuring the elder Ilmuratov’s accountant into admitting tax violations, promising her legal amnesty, the source said.
The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has called on Washington to “suspend its cooperation” with a controversial company supplying fuel to the American airbase at Manas Airport. The request comes two days after the Pentagon renewed its contract with Mina Corp, currently under investigation in both countries.
Many in Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government accuse Mina Corp – which Washington said would keep the contract on November 3 – of helping line the pockets of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Seven months after Bakiyev’s downfall, then, it looked like a slap in the face when the Pentagon chose to stick with the same secretive company, the MFA statement suggested.
The events of April 2010 led to the fall of the family-clan regime of ex-President Bakiyev and exposed corruption schemes surrounding fuel supplies to the Manas Transit Center.
These corruption schemes led to the levying of export duties on all refined oil products coming in from the Russian Federation, supplied for the needs of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic, which fell as an additional heavy burden on the shoulders of the Kyrgyz people.
In connection with this, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic calls on the Government of the United States of America to suspend its cooperation with Mina Corp until the completion of the investigation by prosecutors of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Kazakhstan has long positioned itself as the “snow leopard” economy, aspiring to compete with the Asian Tigers. So today’s news will be warmly received in Astana: Kazakhstan has topped an international rating of the world’s business climates – not overall, but in terms of efforts over the last year to improve business regulation.
“Kazakhstan improved conditions for starting a business, obtaining construction permits, protecting investors, and trading across borders,” the overview to the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2011 report says.
That’s pushed Kazakhstan 15 places up in the overall rankings for ease of doing business to be the world's top reformer: the business climate ranks 59th this year, out of 183.
Bishkek’s pleas for help to combat narcotics trafficking are finding a sympathetic Russian ear. The new head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), high-ranking diplomat Yuri Fedotov, is eager to lend a helping hand.
The daughter of Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov is surely blessing her fans today. Russian outlets report that Gulnara Karimova junkies are working overtime to polish her intricate image and help the rest of us keep up: They have released an e-book disk entitled “Guliko” on the livejournal-based guliclub.
The "promotional disc" includes photographs of Gulnara (presumably among A-class international celebrities, her favored adopted environment), her biography, a collection of her poems and songs, as well as pictures of her Guli jewelry collection, marketed by Switzerland’s Chopard.
Life in the spotlight is tough, however. Karimova’s attempts to maintain the image of western socialite while employing her celebrity friends -- usually western pop and opera singers -- to lend credibility to her father’s dictatorial regime have often backfired.
For example, when the British media learned that pop icon Sting received £2 million to play a gig in Uzbekistan, he called Googoosha’s dad a dictator “hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset.” Embarrassing!
By closing its border and forcing a remote Tajik valley into isolation for the winter ahead, Uzbekistan is showing it will spare no effort in its protracted battle of wills with Dushanbe.
The Zarafshan Valley is accessible from the rest of Tajikistan only in the warmer months, when snow does not close the road. In winter, residents depend on Uzbekistan for access to the outside world. Previously, according to a bilateral agreement, residents of the valley were allowed to enter Uzbekistan for five days without a visa, Ferghana.ru reports. The border is now shut.
Uzbek authorities told Dushanbe that they have shut the only post connecting Zarafshan with Uzbekistan's Samarkand Province and have not provided a reason, Tajik MFA officials say. The area is home to some 121,000 people, according to official statistics from 2007. Tashkent has refused EurasiaNet.org's request for comment.
This latest squeeze is unsurprising, given the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries, mostly over Tajikistan’s plans to construct a giant hydropower dam at Rogun. Uzbekistan is worried the upstream plant will cut water supplies to its intensive agricultural sector.
Three weeks after voters in Kyrgyzstan went to the polls to pick their new parliament, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) has finally announced what we’ve all been expecting since election night: Five parties passed the five percent threshold to divide up the new parliament’s 120 seats. They are
“In elections there are always winners and losers,” he said. “It’s quite another matter how participants in the elections behave after the process. This concerns not everybody, but those who cannot resign themselves to losing.”
Let the countdown begin. The parliament must sit within two weeks. The five parties have two more weeks to name a premier.
Recent violence on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border may vindicate those predicting that Islamic militants could spill over the Ferghana Valley’s porous borders. It could also deepen tension between the valley’s three squabbling governments.
In Tajikistan’s Charku village, authorities have been battling militants they call members of the extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al-Qaeda affiliate, killing three and arresting one on October 29, Avesta.tj reports.
After two months of militant activity in Tajikistan, the latest fighting is unusual because it has happened in the de facto no man’s land between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There is no clear border between what the Kyrgyz call Kok-Tash and the Tajiks Charku; the frontier zigzags between homes in the ethnically mixed settlement with Tajiks and Kyrgyz laying claims to each other’s territory. (Contrary to some media reports, Charku is not a Tajik enclave, but a peninsula of contiguous Tajik land pointing into Kyrgyzstan.)
Kazakhstan’s president has been touring Europe on a charm offensive, courting investors to take part in the “grandiose project” of making Kazakhstan a modern, hi-tech economy. On his three-day tour of Belgium and France, Nursultan Nazarbayev pushed the message that Kazakhstan is a reliable energy partner and a profitable place to invest.
While keen to stress Kazakhstan as an energy supplier to Europe, Nazarbayev described reliance on oil and gas as “a thing of the past” for Astana and urged Europe’s businessmen to invest in non-energy sectors.
His message was heard: Nazarbayev rounded off his trip to Paris on October 27 with a couple of billion dollars’ worth of new contracts in his pocket, many of them with firms outside the oil and gas industries.
This is a success not only for the president but also for Kayrat Kelimbetov, a key economic player who runs the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund, which owns all of Kazakhstan’s state companies. Kelimbetov, who accompanied Nazarbayev along with over 50 businessmen, said Kazakhstan is a great place to invest as it “is coming back to its previous period of economic boom,” while economies elsewhere continue to struggle with the effects of the financial crisis. Kazakhstan posted real GDP growth of 8 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, and forecasts annual growth of 5.4 percent – a figure some economists believe is conservative.
Taking the announcement by Vladimir Kozlov as an insult, Kazakh nationalists hurled eggs at him at a press conference in Almaty on October 27. Attempts by Kozlov, leader of the unregistered Alga! DVK opposition party, to explain his plans ended in scuffles between his supporters, nationalists and journalists. Police were called to the National Press Club to split up the warring sides and made two arrests.
“Don’t provoke our people, don’t stamp on our pride!” cried an angry member of the Zheltoksan (December) movement. A protestor described the bid by a non-ethnic Kazakh to stand for president as an “insult to the whole Kazakh people.” Ironically, Kozlov may not be an ethnic Kazakh but, unlike many members of minority groups, he’s made attempts to learn the Kazakh language and has espoused causes dear to the nationalists’ hearts.
The Zheltoksan movement is named after a protest in Almaty in December 1986 that saw mainly ethnic Kazakhs take to the central square to rally against Moscow’s appointment of an ethnic Russian as leader of Soviet Kazakhstan. The move to parachute in Gennadiy Kolbin, who had no experience working in Kazakhstan, to replace Dinmukhamed Kunayev sparked resentment among ethnic Kazakhs, who were at the time in a minority in the Soviet republic.