Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for September, 2011

OSCE Over Restrictions In Kazakhstan’s New Religion Law

Posted by Info on 29/09/2011

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) expressed concern about the passage of restrictive religion legislation by Kazakhstan’s senate.
The law, which still needs to be signed by the President to enter into force, requires re-registration of all religious communities, bans unregistered religious activities and introduces high penalties for violations of the ban.

Other concerns include the requirement for religious organizations to submit to a “religious study examination”
by a government body; restrictions on the distribution of religious literature outside of religious buildings, religious educational institutions and other facilities identified by local executive bodies; and the requirement for anyone engaged in “missionary activity” to re-register.

ODIHR, in 2009, provided a legal opinion on an earlier version of the law that included similar provisions, concluding that the rights of religious groups would be negatively affected. The draft was subsequently rejected by Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council.

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Joint Statement Calling On Uzbekistan To Grant Freedom To Citizens.

Posted by Info on 28/09/2011

Five Central Asian and European human rights organisations of have issued a joint statement calling on the authorities in Uzbekistan to grant more freedom to its politicians and citizens.

The Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan (IGNPU) is lending support to the declaration, which is designed to draw the attention of OSCE countries to current issues in the Central Asian region.

The document highlights in particular the Uzbek authorities’ hostile attitude to the work of NGOs.
“Only one active human rights organisation, Ezgulik, is recognised, while other groups, including IGNPU, have to carry out their work without having any legal status”.
The statement’s authors recall the fact that more than ten human rights activists are currently in jail in Uzbekistan, some of whom are tortured or are being kept in extremely harsh conditions.

Statement call not to obstruct the registration of human rights organisations and NGOs, to officially recognise Human Rights Watch and to stop pursuing civil activists for illegal activity. They also ask Uzbekistan to stop blocking the websites of human rights organisations and to adopt a law on freedom of association... the problems of internet blocking, especially with regard to social networking sites.

Calls to block social sites are common not only in Uzbekistan but in other countries including members of intergovernmental and regional organisations such as the Collective Security Treat Organisation (CTSO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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Exiled Uzbek Political Activist Shot Dead In Russia

Posted by Info on 27/09/2011

An Uzbek businessman and opposition People’s Movement of Uzbekistan (PMU) official Fuad Rustamkhojaev,38, was shot several times in the head and chest late on September 24 in front of his home in the western Russian city of Ivanovo.

He was active in the movement’s congress held in Berlin in May. In an address at the gathering he urged fellow Uzbeks to unite against the “dictatorship” in their homeland.
Rustamkhojaev had been approached about a month ago by officers from Uzbekistan’s National Security Service who physically threatened him if he continued his political activities.

About 20 people representing the Erk opposition party, the Andijon — Justice and Revival group, and the Tayanch organization, joined to form the PMU at a meeting in Duesseldorf, Germany from May 2-4, while the movement’s constituent assembly was held in Berlin in May 25 with some 60 activists attending.

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Ukraine: Conviction Of President’s Rival Is ‘Incompatible With EU Values

Posted by Info on 27/09/2011

Tymoshenko was charged in May with exceeding her authority as prime minister when she signed a 2009 gas deal with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to put an end to a disruptive gas war that had left much of eastern Europe freezing.
The deal left Ukraine saddled with what Yanukovych’s administration considers an intolerably high price. Yanukovych’s attempts to renegotiate the deal with Moscow have so far been rebuffed, prompting him to threaten taking the issue to an international court.

Tymoshenko has used the trial as a platform to denounce a growing democratic deficit since Yanukovych came to power last year. She called the judge a puppet and accused the president of attacking his rivals “just like Stalin”.
On 5 August she was detained for violating court rules and has been languishing in a Kiev jail ever since.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said: “Clearly this particular trial is conducted under laws that would have no place in any other European country and should have no place in a country aspiring to European membership.”

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US Suspends Sanctions Against Uzbekistan

Posted by Info on 25/09/2011

The US Congress voted on 22 September to remove restrictions on military aid to Uzbekistan. The sanctions were imposed seven years ago in response to Uzbekistan’s deteriorating human rights record.

Human Rights Watch, the international human rights organisation, came out firmly against the administration’s stance.

The aims of the American and Uzbek governments in allowing this concession are not clear.

‘The US is not trying to buy off Uzbekistan, but wants to help out with non-weapon items such as bullet-proof jackets so that the country can defend itself in the event that its enemies try to strike against Uzbekistan in revenge for its providing the Northern supply route for the US to supply positions Afghanistan.”

Congress introduced sanctions on aid to Uzbekistan in 2004. The move was designed to persuade the government of Uzbekistan to improve its human righs record and implement wide ranging political and institutional reform. This, according to analysts of the region, has still not happened.

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Путин На Президентский Пост, Медведев В Правительство

Posted by Info on 25/09/2011

Владимир Путин и Дмитрий Медведев объявили, что поменяются после президентских выборов местами: Путин вернется на президентский пост, Медведев же уйдет в правительство. По словам Медведева, они договорились об этом уже очень давно.

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Russia: Not Elections Needed – Putin Will be President, Medvedev Prime Minister

Posted by Info on 24/09/2011

President Dmitri A. Medvedev announced at a party convention in Moscow that he would step aside for Mr. Putin, who served as president from 2000 to 2008 but was limited by the Constitution to two consecutive terms. Mr. Medvedev is to take his place as prime minister after presidential elections in March that Mr. Putin is assured of winning.

“I want to say directly: An agreement over what to do in the future was reached between us several years ago,” Mr. Putin said. Mr. Medvedev also said there had been no conflict, though his account was less definitive.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who transformed post-Soviet Russia by imposing Kremlin control over most aspects of public life, could remain president until 2024, giving him a rule comparable in length with that of Brezhnev or Stalin.

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Romania , Bulgaria Denied Entry To Schengen Zone

Posted by Info on 23/09/2011

Romania and Bulgaria, the European Union’s two newest members, were denied entry into Europe’s borderless free-travel zone Thursday when EU interior ministers could not reach the necessary unanimity and decided not to hold a vote.

This is a big shock for all people from Moldova, who paid a lot of money to get their Romanian passports (as they have rights to hold Moldovian and also Romanian passports), thus a free access to Schengen countries.

The Netherlands and Finland had publicly opposed admitting Romania and Bulgaria, both of which joined the European Union in 2007, saying they needed to do more to fight corruption and organized crime. Within the Schengen free-travel zone, there are no checks performed or papers required when people cross national borders.

The French and Germans had proposed a compromise: drop border checks at airports and seaports in October, but continue them on land crossings until summer 2013, based on a report to be completed by July. But that was rejected.

The free movement of people has been one of the EU’s most cherished achievements. And the dispute over it comes just as the EU’s other most-cherished achievement, the euro common currency, is also under severe stress.

After the Dutch announced their opposition to Romania and Bulgaria joining, Romania began blocking all flower imports from the Netherlands, saying the paperwork was not in order and the plants might contain “dangerous bacteria.” Esther de Lange, a Dutch member of the European Parliament called the move “old-school blackmail.”

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OSCE – Russia About Number Of International Observers

Posted by Info on 23/09/2011

Vladimir Churov, the head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission views the OSCE requirements as unacceptable and offensive for Russia because according to him, a large number of foreign observers is common only for “second-rate” countries that lack credibility abroad. While “first-rate” states invite relatively few foreigners to monitor elections, second-rate ones have more than 200.
No country wants to be second-rate, especially Russia,” Churov said. Elena Dubrovina, a member at the Central Elections Commission said that the number of long-term observers should be limited to 20.

But some experts believe that even 260 international observers is a small number for Russia.It is not clear why the Central Election Commission is reluctant to invite 260 international observers from the OSCE. After all, they are hardly likely to harm Russia, because, as a matter of fact, it’s not very many for such a big country as Russia.

The OSCE’s harsh criticism of the Russian parliamentary elections is primarily based on precedents. ODIHR members denounced United Russia, Russia’s ruling party, for using administrative resources to win the 2003 elections (about 480 foreign observers came to Russia back then). In 2007, the Central Election Commission invited only 70 ODIHR representatives and significantly delayed their invitations, which prevented them from monitoring the pre-election campaign. As a result, they refused to go to Russia and described the 2007 election as “unfair” and manipulated.

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Lithuania Expands Blacklist Of Belarusian Officials

Posted by Info on 23/09/2011

Vilnius intends to add 18 Belarusian officials to those banned from entering Lithuania. These officials have relation to persecution of Belarusian Viasna Human Rights Centre and its leaders. The Viasna leader is in the detention facility Nr 1 in Minsk facing 7 years in prison.
Names and posts of the civil servants are not given, but they are “associated with the persecution of the Belarusian Human Rights Centre Viasna and its leaders”.

Lithuania has already called on other EU member states to consider a possibility of adding these Belarusian officials to their national lists of persons declared persona non grata in their countries.

The EU has already imposed travel ban on 200 Belarusian top officials due to crackdown on the opposition conducted by official Minsk.

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Russia: Terror Act Against Police – Two Car Bombs In Dagestan

Posted by Info on 23/09/2011

One person was killed and 61 injured in twin blasts in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala yesterday.

One person died with another 61 injured when two car bombs went off shortly after midnight near the city’s central square, with an interval of some 15-17 minutes. The second blast targeted a police convoy which rushed to the scene of the first explosion.
A total of 44 police were injured in the blast, other victims are civilians. Two people, one of them a police officer, are in critical condition.
More that a decade after the end of a federal war against separatists in Chechnya, militants continue to stage frequent attacks on security forces, police and civilians, in other regions in the area, including Dagestan.

Deputy Prisons head shot dead with his family in Dagestan
this morning. “Unknown people shot up Murtazaliev’s car along with his driver, daughter and nephew,” a local investigators’ spokesman said. Murtazaliev’s murder was probably motivated by his official duties.

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Kazakh Parliament Passes Controversial New Religion Law

Posted by Info on 22/09/2011

Kazakhstan’s parliament has voted in favor of a controversial law to limit foreign religious missionaries operating in the country.

The new law would require missionaries to register once a year with the government agency overseeing religious activity. It also says missionaries who threaten the “constitutional order” and “public peace” will be expelled. The measure also would ban prayer rooms in all state institutions.
Human rights groups are criticizing the new law, saying it will limit religious freedom, especially for Christians. Seventy percent of Kazakhstan’s population is Muslim.
Supporters join Mr. Nazarbayev in calling the law an important step in meeting a growth of radical Islam in an impoverished region of Kazakhstan that is bordered by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — all of which have radical Islamic groups.

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Book “The New Nobility” About FSB And Todays Pressure At Publisher

Posted by Info on 22/09/2011

“The New Nobility” was first published in the United States in English last September. The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB,” by journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, was published in Russian in July. Soldatov said the FSB only started paying attention to it after it was published in Russian and “people started buying it up and actively discussing it.”
Most of 5,000 copies of the Russian book have been sold out at Moscow bookstores and several major regional bookstore chains, and a second printing was planned.

The FSB contacted German Kravchenko, director of the Chekhov printing house, which printed the book,
last Wednesday with a written request for “data on the people who ordered the book printed,” according to a scanned copy of the letter. Many Russian publishers had refused to publish the book.

The 250-page book, based on 10 years of articles that Soldatov and Borogan have published in different outlets, including and the opposition biweekly Novaya Gazeta, analyzes the work of the Federal Security Service and its predecessor, the KGB, over the last 20 years.

The book tells how the FSB plants moles in political opposition groups; how its officers “sell themselves” prestigious land plots on Rublyovskoye Shosse for peanuts; how the FSB fails to fight terrorism effectively; how its officers always continue working for the FSB, even when they have another official job; and how FSB officers have come to occupy key positions in the government and in business, the online magazine reported Wednesday.

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European Court Delivers Mixed Ruling On Yukos

Posted by Info on 21/09/2011

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian authorities had violated the rights of the now-defunct Yukos company, but rejected claims that the break-up of the oil giant was politically motivated.
The split decision was welcomed by both sides.

The court also deferred consideration of a Yukos claim for $98 billion in compensation, giving the parties three months to reach an out-of-court settlement. The claim was the biggest ever filed at the court.

Yukos first became the subject of tax proceedings in 2002, when tax authorities accused it of setting up shell companies to hide earnings. It was declared insolvent in 2006 and was liquidated the following year. Its vast assets were acquired by the state-run Rosneft oil company.
Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on tax evasion charges and sentenced to eight years in 2005. His sentence was extended in a second trial on separate charges earlier this year and he is now due for release in 2016.

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Estonia Has Deported Uzbek Asylum Seeker

Posted by Info on 21/09/2011

Estonia has deported to Russia an Uzbek asylum seeker because he entered Estonian territory from Russia illegally by swimming across the 300-meter-wide Narva River that marks the border between the two countries.

Rakhim Sobirov, 30,did not have any identification documents with him, and for that reason he was returned to Russia, the country from which he illegally entered Estonia.
He was among a group of Uzbek asylum seekers wanted by Tashkent on religious-extremism charges who were arrested in Kazakhstan last year. He traveled to Russia after his release from detention.
He left all his identity documents at home, fearing that he might be extradited to Uzbekistan at the request of the Uzbek authorities if he had Uzbek identity papers with him.

Posted in Estonia, Russia, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »