Georgia wants to sue Russia for interventions in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia between 1990 and 2008; acts that Tbilisi argues led to the expulsions of thousands of ethnic Georgians from the territories. But the ICJ upheld the Russian side’s argument that Tbilisi has not tried to negotiate a solution with Moscow directly before going to court.
The ICJ, however, rejected Russian claims that Moscow is not responsible for ethnic discrimination that occurred in these conflicts.
Tbilisi says it will follow the court’s conventions, and then come back to The Hague again; Moscow says it's happy with things as they are.
Turkish soccer is often times better known for what takes place off the field than on it. With legions of obsessive -- and frequently violent -- fans who swear undying allegiance to their teams, Turkish soccer games have frequently turned into bloody affairs, with extreme fighting in the stands.
The Turkish government is now trying to make that a thing of the past, thanks to a new law just passed by parliament. From the Associated Press:
The legislation, passed late Thursday, introduces up to six years in prison for fans who dismantle seats, two years in prison for fans who chant racial slurs and obscenities in or around stadiums and one-year prison terms for spectators who attempt to bring guns, sharp objects or flares to sports events.
The legislation was pushed by the Turkish Football Federation, which has vowed to adopt zero tolerance toward hooliganism. The Turkish football league is frequently marred by crowd trouble, with fans lighting up flares, throwing objects and yelling obscenities to taunt opposition teams and referees.
More details here. The legislation will also require fans to buy electronic tickets to games, using a government-issued identification number, which will make it easier for officials to track an offending fans. And click here to hear an audio clip featuring Elif Batuman, a New Yorker writer who recently wrote a great article about the scarily committed fans of Istanbul's Besiktas team.
Presidential candidates normally choose to campaign in elections on their home turf, but Kazakhstan's leader likes to stand out from the crowd. Disdaining the campaign trail at home as he heads for victory on April 3, Nursultan Nazarbayev is wooing a foreign audience instead.
Astana's PR machine’s been in overdrive ahead of the election: Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev hailing “Nazarbayev’s rich political and life experience, bright charisma, strategic vision of a creative leader, rare inner integrity and adherence to principles” to New Europe magazine was a particular gem.
The latest outpouring, in The Washington Post, is penned by Nazarbayev himself and trumpets, the headline says, “Kazakhstan's steady progress toward democracy.”
“[W]e are progressing steadily on the path of democratic reform,” writes Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan for two decades -- critics say with an iron fist; supporters see it more as firm paternalism.
The progress Nazarbayev discerns isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Political reforms of recent years have included exempting Nazarbayev personally from constitutional term limits (otherwise he wouldn’t have been standing in Sunday’s election at all) and granting him the title of Leader of the Nation, with special powers and privileges including the threat of jail for anyone who ventures to criticize the esteemed ruler.
From the television station that brought you the fake Russian invasion of Georgia in 2010 comes a similarly hard-hitting news investigation. This time, it's not about Russian troops in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Rather, it is the story of a mole and a pile of dog droppings.
Imedi was never really chastened by the international egg-pelting over its make-believe Russia invasion report. It has since moved on to fresher fields. In an apparent attempt to boost ratings, the station's news team now offers viewers a heady brew of sensational reports on murders, male prostitutes, celebrities, and, yes, a supposedly imminent Fukushima-style nuclear disaster in the Caucasus.
In one recent analysis, the station's Special Report news magazine found that Georgians -- especially students -- are ridiculously uneducated.
To prove their point, the channel's gung-ho journalists ambushed a handful of people in downtown Tbilisi with questions about Georgian historical and cultural figures. That was pretty much enough.
But Imedi needed a culprit for why Georgians allegedly know so little about history and math, and so much about trendy fashion designers. And it found one.
It is a popular German children’s book ("The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business" ) about a mole who questions various animals to find out which one defecated on his head.
In the eyes of many in this part of the world, the West has a selective memory about the messy demise of the Soviet Union. While Georgia and Armenia largely ignored Gorbachev's big day, some in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan called for suing the octogenarian ex-comrade for presiding over the Soviet army's 1990 crackdown on Baku protesters and role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The bigger news for Azerbaijani media outlets was the failure of British police to honor a request from former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky to arrest Gorbachev for the deaths of peaceful demonstrators in Baku (1990), Tbilisi (1989) and Vilnius (1991). Saying that Gorby enjoys diplomatic immunity, a London court declined to issue an arrest warrant.
One of Turkey's top bankers has resigned after strongly criticizing the Minister of Economy's comment that the state does not want to resort to "police-type tactics" against banks that don't limit their loan growth rate. The banker, Ersin Ozince of Isbank, tied the minister's comments to the recent controversial arrest of journalists in Turkey, who were detained as part of an investigation into an alleged coup plot. More details here.
Food trucks are hot and so is Turkish food, so why not bring the two together? That seems to be the idea behind the Pera Turkish Tacos truck which is currently roving the streets of New York. An offshoot of a Turkish restaurant in midtown Manhattan, the truck serves up a funky take on the taco, with Turkish-inspired fillings and wraps. The Huffington Post has a review.
Snow White nearly died from them. Trick-or-treating children once found razors in them. Now an ingenious gang of drug smugglers has been busted for stuffing them – yes, apples – with $14 million worth of heroin and driving them by truck from Kyrgyzstan to Russia, local news reports say.
Security officials in the major Siberian city of Novosibirsk announced this week that they have interdicted more than 82 kilograms of heroin “packed in spherical containers made of foamed plastic and disguised as apples. They were transported together with real fruit,” a spokeswoman for the regional branch of Russia’s main intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), was quoted as saying. Officials suspect the smack-packed shipment reached Russia from Kyrgyzstan via Kazakhstan, two Central Asian countries that claim to be the apple’s birthplace.
The major bust, preceded by a months-long joint investigation by the FSB and Russia’s Customs Service, resulted in the arrest of an unspecified number of people from different countries, news agencies reported. A search for the smugglers’ coconspirators continues.
Earlier this week EurasiaNet.org reported on the trials and tribulations faced by Respublika newspaper, which is often highly critical of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's administration, and the samizdat publishing methods the newspaper uses to reach newsstands.
Now it seems a fresh misfortune has befallen Respublika: The director of the paper’s parent company has gone missing just days after being beaten up and robbed of documents belonging to the newspaper.
Daniyar Moldashev, head of Respublika’s registered publisher, ADP Ltd, was brutally attacked near his home on March 26 after returning from a trip to Moscow to visit Respublika’s editorial office there, deputy editor Oksana Makushina told a news conference in Almaty on March 31.
Moldashev was left with a broken arm and a concussion, and the attackers stole a camera and documents he’d brought from Moscow: items related to the newspaper’s investigative reporting.
Moldashev was supposed to be at home recovering, but since March 29 he’s been unreachable by telephone and isn’t to be found at home, Makushina said.
The only communication from him since then has been an enigmatic call from an unidentified number to the cellphone of a colleague, Guzyal Baydalinova, the evening of March 30. Moldashev said he was, all of a sudden, in Minsk – and then hung up.
In another mysterious twist to the tale, staff in Respublika’s Moscow office suspected that Moldashev was under some sort of surveillance in the Russian capital, Makushina said. The spooks were so amateurish that the Moscow journalists spotted them and even managed to take some photos.
Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili says there is only one source for the kind of heavy weaponry his country needs to defend itself from Russia: the U.S. In an interview with Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin, Saakashvili discussed the question of the U.S. providing weapons to Georgia. He said that the U.S. is not refusing to sell Georgia weapons, which is something some allies of Georgia have claimed:
Saakashvili said he takes the administration at its word that there is no ban on weapons sales to Georgia and that some sales of small arms are "in the pipeline." But he added that Georgia really needs heavier weapons that could be used to defend the country in the case of another conflict with Russia.
"We don't' really need small arms, we have plenty of them and actually there are many alternative sources to shop for them," he said. "What Georgia really needs is something that it cannot get from anywhere else and that's anti-air and anti-tank [weapons] and that's completely obvious ... that's where should be the next stage of the cooperation."
Emphasis added. Now, there are certainly many other places than the U.S. whence Georgia could buy these sorts of weapons. Wikipedia, for example, lists 19 countries that produce anti-tank missiles, including ones like Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey, where these weapons would be much cheaper than U.S. equivalents and which wouldn't have obvious geopolitical problems. There's a similarly extensive list of countries that make anti-aircraft missiles and guns.