This article was updated at 2:20am EST on October 4.
After a solid victory over President Mikheil Saakshvili’s United National Movement in Georgia’s October 1 parliamentary elections, billionaire
Bidzina Ivanishvili and his nine-party coalition may feel like they are living the Georgian Dream. But keeping the coalition together and governing effectively may prove a challenge.
But maybe it makes sense to them. If Qurbanly was not high on something, then why would he be bashing the government and be involved in the Nida youth opposition movement? Was he not the guy handing out flyers with President Ilham Aliyev’s silhouette captioned “I Will Go in 2013 if You Join Nida”?
But that’s not the full list of the blogger’s heinous offenses, the thinking, no doubt, goes. He had the gall to criticize the government for making the poetry of President Aliyev’s elder daughter, Leyla, about her grandfather (the late President Heydar Aliyev ) a compulsory read in Azerbaijani schools.
Again, must be the drugs, Azerbaijani cops might say . . .
Granted, the police think they know what they're dealing with when it comes to bloggers. Back in 2009, there were those two foreign-educated intellectuals (who just happened to have criticized Aliyev's government online) picking a drunken fight with several men in a restaurant.
Then, this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Baku was followed by an after-party of arrests of some troubled youth, who, again, had just happened to criticize the government online.
This summer, a 32-year-old musician with Uzbek citizenship was visiting her mother in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. For the last decade, the musician has lived in the Tajik capital Dushanbe with her husband, an ethnic Uzbek, and their 10-year-old daughter.
The movers and shakers of the global oil and gas industry, currently in Astana for a trade conference, now have no reason to fear Kazakhstan might go green on them.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev, has pointed out that he’s prioritizing short-term profit over long-term environmental concerns. Speaking at a press conference at the Kazenergy Eurasian Forum on October 2, Kulibayev announced that Kazakhstan will continue to exploit its vast hydrocarbon resources rather than develop alternative energy supplies.
This is bad news for the green brigade, of course, but not all is lost. Kulibayev, who is an influential figure in the country's energy sector, didn’t say he’d never consider renewable energy. He added that Kazakhstan would wait for the cost of alternatives like wind and solar power to become more affordable before getting too committed.
Some might find the announcement confusing, since the trade body Kulibayev heads -- the Kazenergy Association -- promises, on its website, that it is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to the “realization of the Kyoto Protocol and post-Kyoto agreements.”
Police in Bishkek clashed with protestors calling for the nationalization of a strategic gold mine on October 3. Dozens of men climbed over the fence surrounding the parliament building, known as the White House, before police drove them away with tear gas and stun grenades.
Two deputies from the nationalist Ata-Jurt (“Fatherland”) party led the protests, which local media reports say were attended by over 1,000 people. Photos show Ata-Jurt leader Kamchybek Tashiev -- who said he suffered a leg injury -- leading the assault. A deputy interior minister said Tashiev led the protestors over the fence.
Another member of Ata-Jurt, Sadyr Japarov, reportedly told protestors to follow him to the White House, where they would “sit in the offices of the deputies, the president, the prime minister,” the Knews.kg news agency quoted him as saying. Ata-Jurt has the most seats in parliament, but is not a member of the ruling coalition.
At least 12 people were injured, Kloop.kg reported, several with gunshot wounds. It is not clear who fired at whom or if some of the rioters were armed. Police were among the injured.
Stunning parliamentary election results are sending Georgia into uncharted territory for a post-Soviet state: two relatively equally balanced political forces now must learn the art of legislative give-and-take.
Democratization activists in Kyrgyzstan are worrying about a roll-back of basic freedoms after a Bishkek court prohibited a film festival from screening a Dutch documentary about homosexual Muslim men.
Russia and Tajikistan will continue negotiating over the extension of the Russian 201st Division's presence in Tajikistan next year, a top Russian military official has said. That contradicts recent reports that the two countries had come to an agreement on the presence of the division's base on the outskirts of Dushanbe, and that the agreement would be formally signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Dushanbe on October 5. From the AP:
Russia’s ground forces commander Vladimir Chirkin said in an interview on Ekho Mosky radio station that outstanding issues on the terms of the deal will continue to be discussed with Tajikistan until the end of March...
Chirkin said the Russian troops would work in a coalition with local forces, something that Tajikistan is believed to have pushed for during negotiations.
Tajikistan has said it would like $300 million annually in cash or equivalent in military assistance for the bases.
“We will undoubtedly provide military and technical assistance so that this coalition is fully supplied,” Chirkin said. “How large (that assistance) is to be will be calculated by the specialists.”