No one wins… what a waste.
Why should this happened? Is there any invisible hands involved? or is there any provocateur taking advantage on the newly formed interim government?
I was in Osh somewhere in 1995, a very nice place full with nice people, located in Ferghana Valley, the bed of Islamic movement in the region. Stop fighting, concentrate on nation building.
Shahrul Peshawar, Kota Bharu
OSH, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan appealed for Russia’s help on Saturday to stop ethnic fighting that has killed at least 75 and left parts of its second-largest city in flames, the worst violence since the president was toppled in April.
The interim government in Kyrgyzstan, which hosts U.S. and Russian military bases, said it was powerless to stop armed gangs from burning down the homes and businesses of ethnic Uzbeks in parts of Osh. Gun battles raged throughout the night.
Violence and shooting spread to the neighboring region of Jalalabad, scene of deadly clashes last month.
“We need the entry of outside armed forces to calm the situation down,” interim government leader Roza Otunbayeva told reporters. “We have appealed to Russia for help and I have already signed such a letter for President Dmitry Medvedev.”
Russia said now was not the time to intervene.
“It is an internal conflict and for now Russia does not see the conditions for taking part in its resolution,” Natalya Timakova, Medvedev’s spokeswoman, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Kyrgyzstan, a poor former Soviet state of 5.3 million people, declared a state of emergency in Osh and several rural districts early on Friday after rival ethnic gangs fought each other with guns, iron bars and petrol bombs.
Renewed turmoil in Kyrgyzstan will fuel concern in Russia, the United States and neighbor China. Washington uses an air base at Manas in the north of the country, about 300 km (190 miles) from Osh, to supply its forces in Afghanistan.
The Kyrgyz Health Ministry said at least 75 people had been killed — six of them in Jalalabad — and nearly 1,000 wounded in the violence in the southerly power base of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, deposed by a popular revolt.
Otunbayeva said the eventual toll was likely to be greater.
Otunbayeva accused supporters of Bakiyev — like her, an ethnic Kyrgyz — of stoking the violence to disrupt her government’s plans to hold a national referendum on June 27 to vote on changes to the constitution.
“This event shows that the push by these people to turn backwards is extraordinarily great,” she said.
She added more reinforcements would be sent to Osh. The interim government has already deployed troops and armored vehicles and declared a night-time curfew in Osh, to no avail.
The curfew was extended to Jalalabad region on Saturday.
“There is shooting, clashes. People are gathering … trying to build blocks, barricades. The police are patrolling,” government spokesman Farid Niyazov said of Jalalabad.
“These are echoes of the events in Osh.”
Interim government deputy chairman Omurbek Tekebayev called for peace between the Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz, saying they are “brotherly nations” who share a religion and similar languages.
The Uzbek Foreign Ministry expressed “great concern” about the events in Osh, saying there were “reasons to conclude that such events are organized, managed and provocational.”
A Reuters correspondent in Osh said gun battles were still taking place in an Uzbek neighborhood. Gas was shut off to Osh and some neighborhoods had no electricity.
“Everywhere is burning: Uzbek homes, restaurants and cafes. The whole town is covered in smoke,” said local human rights worker Dilmurad Ishanov, an ethnic Uzbek.
“We don’t need the Kyrgyz authorities. We need Russia. We need troops. We need help.”
The European Union said it would send its special representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel.
Asked about possible Russian help, an EU spokesman said, “We would welcome any effort from one of our international partners to help the situation in Kyrgyzstan.”
Otunbayeva said Osh was also facing a humanitarian crisis as food was running out. She said her government had decided to open the border to Uzbekistan to allow fleeing Uzbeks to escape, although it was not clear who controlled the frontier.
One witness said some women and children had made it across to the Uzbek town of Marhamat, 60 km (38 miles) from Osh, and camps had been set up for those without family in Uzbekistan.
Russia offered humanitarian aid and sent in a helicopter with doctors to fly out some of the wounded, the Kremlin said.
Kyrgyzstan, which won independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has been in turmoil since the revolt that toppled Bakiyev on April 7, kindling fears of civil war.
Supporters of Bakiyev, now in exile in Belarus, briefly seized government buildings in the south on May 13, defying Otunbayeva’s central authorities in Bishkek.
The latest clashes are the worst ethnic violence since 1990, when then-Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent in Soviet troops after hundreds of people were killed in and around Osh.
This time, Russia said it would discuss the situation within in the security bloc of former Soviet republics known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization on Monday.
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan intertwine in the Fergana Valley. While Uzbeks make up 14.5 percent of the Kyrgyz population, the two groups are roughly equal in the Osh and Jalalabad regions.
The government now faces a major test in trying to reassert control, said Lilit Gevorgyan at IHS Global Insight, “The explosive combination of a counter-revolution and an ethnic conflict poses the greatest threat to the future of the Kyrgyz revolution.”
(Additional reporting by Olga Dzyubenko in Bishkek, Robin Paxton in Almaty, Toni Vorobyova in Moscow and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Louise Ireland)
(Moscow) – Russian authorities should immediately drop criminal libel charges against Oleg Orlov, the prominent activist who heads Memorial Human Rights Center, Human Rights Watch said today. The charges stem from Orlov’s statement that Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya, was responsible for the murder of Natalia Estemirova, Memorial’s leading researcher in Chechnya.
“Criminal penalties for libel are disproportionate and have a chilling effect on free expression in Russia,” said Allison Gill, Moscow director for Human Rights Watch. “Kadyrov has already had his day in court over this issue.”
The decision to bring a criminal case was made public on October 27, 2009. If convicted, Orlov faces up to three years in prison.
Kadyrov brought civil defamation charges against Orlov and Memorial, suing for 10 million rubles in damages (approximately US$300,000). On October 6, 2009, a Moscow court ruled that Orlov’s statement defamed Kadyrov and ordered Orlov and Memorial to pay a total of 70,000 rubles (approximately US$2,400) and publish a retraction that the statement “does not correspond to reality.”
Orlov and Memorial have appealed that ruling and have stated their intention to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. The European Court has previously ruled, in Kazakov v. Russia, that “to make someone retract his or her own opinion by acknowledging his or her own wrongness is a doubtful form of redress and does not appear to be ‘necessary.'”
Human Rights Watch said that the current case against Orlov highlights the need to bring Russia’s laws in line with its international obligations to protect freedom of expression. Russia and Azerbaijan remain the only two Council of Europe member states to make libel a criminal offense.
In determining whether Orlov’s statements were libelous, the court will need to take into account the standards applicable under Russia’s human rights obligations, especially the need to protect freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said. The threshold for criticism of a public official is much higher than for a private individual, Human Rights Watch noted.
“Freedom to criticize officials, even accuse them of wrongdoing, is important to fostering public debate and to holding officials accountable,” Gill said. “The threat of criminal sanction to restrict speech strikes at the very essence of what it means to be a free society.”
Estemirova was abducted outside her home in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on July 15 and was found shot dead in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia later the same day.
The nature of Estemirova’s investigations into official abuses, the circumstances of her murder, and the pattern of threats against her, Memorial, and investigative journalists and human rights defenders in Chechnya all point to possible official involvement in or acquiescence to her murder.
Human Rights Watch warned that the Russian authorities should not allow the suit to distract from their responsibility to investigate Estemirova’s killing thoroughly and impartially and to identify and prosecute those responsible.
Human rights groups have documented serious human rights violations committed by law enforcement and security personnel under Kadyrov’s de facto control. These violations, committed in a counterinsurgency campaign, include illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, and home-burnings of individuals they accuse of being involved in or supportive of the insurgency. Those who document and publicize these crimes have faced violence, threats, and harassment.
Estemirova’s murder was followed three weeks later by the killings of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik Dzhabrailov, civic activists who worked for Save the Generation, a charity that provides humanitarian assistance to war victims. Sadulayeva and Dzhabrailov were abducted from their Grozny office by law enforcement personnel on August 10 and found shot the next day. In the months since Estemirova’s murder, several Memorial staff who work on Chechnya have faced threats and intimidation.
The announcement of the criminal charges comes just days before the European Union and Russia will hold their bi-annual human rights consultations. Human Rights Watch urged the European Union to seize the opportunity of the talks, scheduled for November 5 and 6 in Stockholm, to press Russia to protect human rights defenders and to seek a commitment from Russia to bring its libel laws in line with its international obligations to protect free expression.
The European Union and the United States should further urge the Russian government to demonstrate its commitment to openness and accountability by securing immediate and unfettered access to Russia, including to the North Caucasus, for international monitors who have long sought such access. These include the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly rapporteur on legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus, and UN special rapporteurs on torture, extrajudicial executions, and human rights defenders.
“If anything, the charges against Orlov should remind Russia’s partners of the urgent need to protect human rights defenders in Russia,” Gill said. “The EU should seize the chance to press Russia for an effective, credible, and transparent investigation into Estemirova’s murder.
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Moscow
Human rights activists and opposition politicians in Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia have told the BBC that the predominantly Muslim region is now in a state of civil war.
It is reported that more than 800 people have been killed in an escalating conflict which originally spilt over from neighbouring Chechnya six years ago.
Ingushetia is a tiny region with a total population of just 300,000.
“A lot of my human rights colleagues and politicians say it is now a civil war and I agree with that,” Magomed Mutsolgov, director of the Ingush Human Rights organisation Mashr, says.
“In my opinion it is a war between the security forces and the local population. Many members of the security forces consider themselves above the law and the population outside the law,” he adds.
A low-level insurgency involving Muslim fighters escalated dramatically last year with a surge of attacks on the security forces and also on people who have moved into the region from other parts of
“From July or August last year there have been three or four attacks every week,” Tanya Lokshina, of Human Rights Watch, says. She recently compiled a major report on Ingushetia.
“There are a few hundred insurgents in total… who are Jihadists fighting to establish a Caliphate in the (Caucasus) region.”
Moscow’s response has been heavy-handed, with reports that an extra 2,500 troops from outside Ingushetia were deployed in the republic last year to help crush what Russia sees as a Muslim rebellion.
But this has only added fuel to the fire which is driving ever more young Ingush men into the arms of the rebels.
The military and other security services including the FSB, the successor to the KGB, have long stood accused of committing gross human rights violations against the Ingush population – such as kidnapping and torture.
But last year, according to Human Rights Watch, the security forces were also responsible for a wave of extra-judicial killings.
Human Rights Watch says 40 people were killed without any proof they had anything to do with the insurgency.
On a dirt track on the outskirts of the main town, Nazran, Jamaldin Gardanov showed me the spot where he says his brother Hamzat was shot through the head by a Russian soldier in August.
He told me Hamzat had been driving home with his cousin after buying some paint in town.
“My brother and his cousin were passing a checkpoint set up after a policeman was killed on the main road,” he said.
“The car turned down here (into the dirt track) and the security forces opened fire with intent to kill.
“My brother died on the spot and his cousin ran off through the fields. The police then fired on the fields for two hours destroying everything.
“I’m 36-years-old and far from being a fighter, but young men of 18 and 19 want to avenge these killings. For some it’s a Jihad against Russia,” he said.
Back at Jamaldin’s house we met Hamzat’s widow and her two children. Jamaldin is now looking after them all.
Over lunch he showed me photographs of a raid on his house by Russian soldiers at the beginning of this month.
One of the pictures shows a young child standing outside the house in front of an armoured personnel carrier.
“My wife and children were standing outside for three hours as they searched our house,” he said.
“They claim we are all Wahhabis”, he said, “so we are being persecuted.”
Jamaldin does come from a family of theologians and is deeply religious, but he strongly denies any links to radical Islam.
“The security forces have created the threat of Wahhabism as a cover for what they are doing here,” he said.
He then showed us some shocking clips of video stored on his mobile phone.
In the first we could see a close-up of a man’s head covered in blood.
This was another of Jamaldin’s brothers, 21-year-old Adam. Jamaldin says he was also shot dead by the security forces.
The second mobile phone video shows the incident, which happened in the centre of Nazran, in February last year.
It was filmed by someone inside the main administration building, looking down on the square where Adam and a friend had been sitting in a car.
The video shows what looks very much like a soldier pulling the bodies from the vehicle.
Jamaldin says the prosecutor told him off the record that his brother Adam was “absolutely clean”, there was no reason for him to have been killed.
The family believes Adam may have been targeted simply because he was a devout Muslim who had studied in Egypt.
Later, in a safe location, we met up with another victim of the security forces’ dirty war in Ingushetia.
23-year-old Tamerlan could barely get out of the car when he arrived at our meeting-point.
He had just been released after being detained for six days by the security forces in the northern town of Maglobek.
He had been picked up with three friends following the murder of a policeman in the town.
When we got inside, he pulled up his jumper to reveal a cluster of deep bruises and cuts around his lower back.
He said he was also badly bruised on his upper thighs and he had marks on his wrists.
“They tortured me from six in the morning to six in the evening,” he said.
“They put a sack over my head and beat me so badly I lost consciousness. They put sharp implements under my nails. I thought I was going to die, it was sadistic.
“They also tied my hands and feet together and hung me up – so I started to suffocate.”
He says the security forces were trying to get him to confess to involvement in the policeman’s murder but had to release him because he knew nothing about it.
He told me he had no connection with the rebels.
“Maybe they detained me because I’m a Muslim and pray at the Mosque and my wife wears the Hijab,” he said.
According to the mainstream opposition leader Maksharip Aushev, this brutal treatment of the local population is not only swelling the ranks of the rebel fighters.
“People are coming to me all the time, saying let’s vote for independence, ” he says.
“If we had a referendum, 80% of the population would vote to leave Russia,” he adds.
In a sign of mounting panic back in Moscow, the Kremlin suddenly announced three weeks ago that the former KGB officer Murat Zyazikov, who had been in charge of Ingushetia since 2002, was being replaced.
The new man is a career soldier, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who made his name during the wars in Chechnya.
He turned down our request for an interview.
The most senior politician in the region who was prepared to speak to us was the chairman of the local parliament’s security committee, Mukhtar Buzurtanov.
He said Yunus-Bek Yevkurov must bring the security forces under control and stop what he called their “illegal activities”.
But he also accused the rebels of trying to destabilise Russia, saying they were part of a radical Islamic movement which had moved into Ingushetia after the wars in Chechnya.
He added that more than 50 soldiers had been killed so far this year.
Other senior officials in the local government have been quoted as saying they have to mount security operations to eliminate the rebels because of the threat they pose to Moscow’s rule over the region.
The arrival of a new leader of Ingushetia who is a battle-hardened soldier and veteran of the Chechen conflict may sound ominous.
But the top opposition politician Maksharip Aushev holds out some hope that Yunus-Bek Yevkurov could improve the situation.
“The former leader Zyazikov was 100% to blame (for the situation). The first thing (new leader Yunus- Bek Yevkurov) did was to invite us to meet him and he said he plans to stop the human rights abuses and tackle corruption. At the moment we see no reason not to trust him.”
So far there have not been any signs of change and the violence and abuses have continued.
“We will give [Mr Yevkurov] a maximum of three months,” Mr Aushev says.
“We will support him if things change, if not it will go back to the situation as it was before.”
Uzbekistan delivered 400 tonnes of humanitarian aid for US$201,000 to Kyrgyz Republic, the Uzbek Embassy in Kyrgyz Republic said in a statement.
The humanitarian aid was delivered in accordance with the resolution of the Uzbek President Islam Karimov on providing humanitarian aid to the people of the Kyrgyz Republic, who suffered from the earthquake on 5 October.
The Uzbek Embassy said that the humanitarian aid was delivered to Kyrgyz Republic on 9 October and 10 October. Fourty-four vehicles supplied aid to Osh region of Kyrgyz Republic.
The humanitarian aid includes various construction materials to the earthquake-hit region, including 120 tonnes of cement, foodstuffs, including 60 tonnes of flour, a tonne of vegetable oil, as well as blankets, knitwear, children’s clothes and other goods of first necessity.
Georgia said one of its policemen was shot dead from a Russian position Wednesday in violation of a fragile truce, as a major crack appeared in the EU-brokered ceasefire over the remit of EU observers.
The Georgians said it was the first fatal shooting since the August 12 ceasefire that brought an end to the five-day war between Georgia and Russia over Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia.
“This is the first time that Georgian police or military personnel have been shot at since the ceasefire began,” Georgian interior ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told AFP.
Vano ShlamovAn unnamed spokesman for the Russian forces in South Ossetia quoted by Interfax denied the incident and said he would not believe it until the Georgians showed him the body.
Georgia’s interior ministry told AFP the officer died in hospital from wounds to the head and throat after being fired on near Karaleti, a key Russian position on the road from the Georgian city of Gori to South Ossetia.
Utiashvili said it was unclear whether the shots had been fired by Russian forces or by Moscow-backed South Ossetian militants.
The Georgian foreign ministry reacted furiously, accusing the Russians of gross ceasefire violations.
Russia’s “armed forces not only do not comply with the political commitments undertaken by their president… but go as far as to completely disregard them thus causing the death of innocent people,” the ministry said.
Georgia’s August 7 offensive to regain control of South Ossetia from Moscow-backed separatists prompted a massive retaliatory thrust by Russia into Georgian territory from which thousands of Russian troops have yet to withdraw.
Russia argues that it repelled Georgian troops to protect thousands of people whom it had granted Russian citizenship since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The West accuses it of seeking to redraw the map by effectively annexing part of its ex-Soviet neighbour.
Hundreds of people on both sides are estimated to have been killed in the conflict. Tens of thousands fled their homes.
In Moscow on Wednesday, Russia ruled out allowing EU observers into South Ossetia and a second Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia.
The move directly contradicted claims by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and threw into doubt a new peace plan the current EU chief had brokered just two days previously with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
“Additional international observers will be deployed precisely around South Ossetia and Abkhazia and not inside these republics,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Moscow.
Medvedev committed on Monday to withdraw within a month all Russian troops from Georgia apart from those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and to allow the deployment of 200 EU observers.
Sarkozy, speaking at the head of an EU delegation early Tuesday alongside Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi, said: “The spirit of the text is that they (the EU observers) will have a mandate to enter (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), to observe, to report.”
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, also part of the EU delegation, said Wednesday that the location of the observers had not been discussed during talks, but that access to the territories was clearly in the “spirit” of the agreements.
Russia has tightened control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the ceasefire, recognising them as independent states, establishing diplomatic relations and vowing to keep 7,600 troops there long-term.
The opening of ties on Tuesday drew a furious response in the Georgian capital Tbilisi where Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria described it as “yet another step in the annexation of Georgia’s sovereign territories.”
Washington, which has consistently taken a tougher line with Moscow over the crisis than most of its European allies, on Wednesday condemned the plan to keep troops in the rebel regions.
The plan is a “clear violation” of both the August truce and previous accords, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
“We have exchanged notes, which have summed up our arrangements on establishment of diplomatic relations of Russia with Abkhazia and of Russia with South Ossetia,” said Mr Lavrov on the outcomes of the meeting with his colleagues from Abkhazia and South Ossetia Sergey Shamba and Murat Dzhioev.
“We have ascertained our consent with the prepared drafts, put our visas to the texts of these documents; and they are now ready for signing in the top level, which will take place soon,” the “Mayak” Radio quotes Sergey Lavrov as saying.
The Russian Minister has also stated that Russia insisted that Abkhazia and South Ossetia take part in international debates on settlement of the situation in the Caucasus to start on October 15 in Geneva.
“The participants of these debates were not listed in the document, but we have clearly fixed that South Ossetia and Abkhazia shall have their equal seats at the table of such debates,” said Mr Lavrov.
The head of the Russian MFA has noted that one of the main topics of the debates will be the issues of ensuring safety and stability in the region, the RIA “Novosti” reports.