Remember those rail cars languishing on the Uzbek-Tajik border?
Since Tashkent started playing with freight deliveries early this year, blocking hundreds of rail cars en route to Tajikistan, Dushanbe has been looking desperately for international support. Tashkent is putting on the squeeze, but no one seems to care. Now Dushanbe has gone to the OSCE, RFE/RL reports.
Tajik Ambassador to the OSCE Nurmuhammad Shamsov told RFE/RL on October 13 that he informed a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on October 7 that help in finding "a fair solution" to the standoff is urgently needed.
He said some 884 freight cars carrying food, medication, construction materials, and fuel are currently held up on the Uzbek side of their border and at other locations in Uzbekistan.
Tajik officials say Uzbekistan is doing everything it can to stop the construction of Dushanbe’s beloved Rogun hydropower plant. Uzbek officials say the delays are technical, that they are repairing stretches of track damaged by spring floods (even though the delays started in winter, before the floods).
Too bad for Tajikistan that the OSCE’s not in the rail repair business.
During Kyrgyzstan’s surprisingly peaceful parliamentary election campaign, Kamchybek Tashiev was one of the most divisive candidates. As a leader of the party with the most votes, Ata-Jurt, he is now set for one of the most prominent positions in a future government.
All in all, Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections couldn't have gone more smoothly. Now, with five parties qualifying for representation in the next parliament, attention in Bishkek is turning to the complex task of coalition building. The fragmented voting results may make it difficult to build a stable governing coalition under the country's new parliamentary system.
At the tail end of a parliamentary campaign that has been more civilized than naysayers had feared, tensions among political opponents have heated up, threatening to exacerbate the country’s simmering north-south divisions only days before the October 10 poll.
On Wednesday afternoon, angry protestors broke into the Bishkek headquarters of the wildcard nationalist party, Ata Jurt (“Fatherland”), after one of its leaders reportedly called for President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a native son of the south who was ousted in street demonstrations in April, to return to Kyrgyzstan.
A man resembling Ata-Jurt candidate Kamchybek Tashiev was recorded addressing an audience during a campaign-stop Q&A. Apparently trying to curry favor with Bakiyev supporters, the man implied that he supported Bakiyev’s return. Ata Jurt has alleged foul play, saying the video was manipulated.
In the grainy tape, a voter appears to ask Tashiev why, as a former Bakiyev-era minister, he didn’t take any measures to keep Bakiyev in power (presumably in April). The Tashiev-like character replies: “We weren’t able to keep him in power, but ultimately we’re the only ones who can bring Bakiyev back to the country.”
The opening of the trial of Voice of America reporter Abdumalik Boboyev is being pushed back, apparently to give his new defense lawyer time to get up to speed on the case. But the defendant tells EurasiaNet.org that he expects a guilty verdict whenever the trial concludes.
Instability in Central Asia – most recently exemplified by violence attributed to Islamic militants in Tajikistan – seems to be giving Moscow a new justification to enhance its military and intelligence presence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Kommersant reports that Moscow is moving two-thirds (40 of 60) of its border-guard advisors in Kyrgyzstan from a suburb of Bishkek to Osh, near the country’s border with Tajikistan. Osh is especially close to a region Dushanbe appears unable to control: the Rasht Valley. (Russia’s border guards are part of the country’s FSB, the successor agency to the KGB.)
The head of the Russian border service said that both he and his Kyrgyz counterparts fear a recent increase in transnational crime, particularly drug trafficking, illegal migration and terrorist training, Kommersant reported.
It’s dark and a little creamy, not as sweet as many post-Soviet beers, a smooth and nutty brew that should make any Kyrgyz beer lover proud.
Aside from its taste, Chuiskoye Temnoye Pivo (Chui Dark Beer), named after the region in northern Kyrgyzstan from which it hails, has one distinct characteristic that keeps local beer connoisseurs snickering: The label prominently displays a marijuana leaf. Chui Valley was almost a brand name in Soviet times, known across the union among pot smokers and teetotalers alike.
Today drug officials on both sides of the valley, in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, battle small plantation owners, hashish traffickers, and kids out harvesting wild weed on the side of the road.
A company representative, who would only identify herself as Saltanat B. and would only respond to questions by email, told EurasiaNet.org that the microbrewery, thirty minutes west of Bishkek, only produces the draft beer for a small local market.
Sorry, international beer fans, you’ll have to come to Kyrgyzstan for a heady glass of Chuiskoye.
Asked why the company chose the easily recognizable pot leaf, Saltanat said, “Extractive substances of hops have a calming, sedative, and even disinfecting effect."
And then she added: "It’s just a advertising tactic.”
That’s a pretty bold gimmick for a country where smoking a joint can land you behind bars for two years.
A notorious Central Asian terrorist group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s slaughter of Tajik troops in Rasht District, while President Imomali Rakhmon is in New York meeting with NATO. If the claim is true, the attack signals a much larger security threat to come and raises the question: which coalitions of countries will be able to work together to counter it?
The attack, a self-styled spokesman said, was in response for Rakhmon’s campaign against Islam. The IMU is also unhappy with NATO’s increasing use of Tajikistan to ferry supplies to fight their brothers-in-arms, the Taliban, in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Rakhmon has held meetings with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Dushanbe’s Asia-Plus news agency reported. It is unclear what they discussed, but there was backslapping on their “cooperation” and joint efforts to fight terrorism. (Despite the tumult afflicting Tajikistan, NATO’s website only published the photo op.)