EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for October, 2011

Kazakhstan: Journalists Beaten While Trying To Cover Workers’ Strike

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Two journalists were attacked and beaten with baseball bats today while on their way to film a strike by oil workers in the western province of Mangystau.

“There were many witnesses and the car used by the attackers has been identified. We demand a swift and impartial investigation. The completely impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the many violent attacks in connection with the strike is intolerable. The authorities must end the impunity at once or be regarded as accomplices.”
Their assailants repeatedly hit them with baseball bats and used a pistol to fire rubber bullets at them. Both were hospitalized.

The strike by oil workers in Mangystau has continued for more than three months despite the use of violence by the authorities in an attempt to suppress it.

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Russian Journalist Deported From Belarus, Deny Acces For 3 Years

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Moskovsky reporter Igor Karmazin, who arrived in Minsk to report on the imprisoned opposition politicians, was deported from the country.

The reporter met with Nikita Likhovidov, who was found guilty and then pardoned by President Alexander Lukashenko and with journalist Irina Khalip, a wife of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov.
After interviewing Khalip two men came up to Karmazin and asked him to follow them. He was taken to a police station, searched and had all the files on his voice recorder erased. They questioned him about what he was talking to Khalip about and fingerprinted him.
Then the Russian journalist was given a paper barring him from entering Belarus, under threat of three years in prison if he was to do so.
His deportation was recorded in his passport. The journalist was then put on a train back to Moscow.

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Tony Blair As Consultant Set Up Office In Kazakhstan

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Allegedly Mr Blair has added Kazakhstan, ruled by Mr Nazarbayev since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, to his consultancy business.

Mr Nazarbayev’s adviser, appeared to confirm this and also said that Mr Blair and his team had opened an office in Astana, the Kazakh capital.
“A large working group is here and, to my knowledge, it has already opened Tony Blair’s permanent office in Astana.
I have met with his people already and we discussed the socio-political modernisation of our country. I liked his people, the range of questions they discussed and their professionalism.”

Tony Blair Associates, Mr Blair’s company, later denied the former Prime Minister or any of his companies were currently involved in the deal.

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ECHR: Tashukhadzhiyev v. Russia

Posted by Info on 26/10/2011

Case Tashukhadzhiyev v. Russia

Russian authorities failed to effectively investigate young man’s disappearance in Chechny
a.

Then 26-year-old son, Elbek Tashukhadzhiyev, was working as a petrol tanker driver when he was stopped and detained in February 1996 by a group of military servicemen near the village of Berkat-Yurt in Chechnya; he has not been seen since.

The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life:obligation to conduct an effective investigation) and of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)in conjunction with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court further held, by a majority, that there had been a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security).

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Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.

THE BALTIC REPUBLICS

Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

THE EU BORDERLANDS UKRAINE, BELARUS and MOLDOVA
Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

THE CAUCASUS
Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

CENTRAL ASIA
A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

RUSSIA
Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Russia Bans Entry To U.S. Officials

Posted by Info on 22/10/2011

Russia has banned entry to dozens of U.S. officials allegedly involved in human rights violations in response to Washington’s blacklisting of Russian officials involved in the prison death of Sergei Magnitsky.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was blacklisting unspecified U.S. officials it claims were involved in the abductions of alleged terrorism suspects, the torture of inmates at Guantanamo prison, the killings of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, and abductions or abuse of Russians in the United States.

In July, the U.S. State Department banned entry to dozens of unidentified Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of Magnitsky. Magnitsky, an attorney who was jailed after accusing Interior Ministry officials of involvement in a massive corruption scandal, died in pretrial detention in 2009 after suffering abuse and medical neglect.

The Russian Foreign Ministry today said the U.S. move was a “political provocation”. It said Russia will expand the list of banned U.S.officials if the United States keeps pushing for the prosecution of those involved in Magnitsky’s death.

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Will Presidential Election In November Help for 2 Years Paralyzed Moldova?

Posted by Info on 22/10/2011

Moldova has set November 18 as the date for a presidential election in a fresh bid to end a leadership crisis which has paralyzed reform in one of Europe’s poorest countries for more than two years.
The election of a president is made by parliament, not by direct popular vote, and requires the support of at least 61 deputies.

Previousc attempts to elect a head of state was close with theruling Alliance which has only 59 seats, while the ommunist opposition, which has 42 seats.

The country has been without a full-time president since communist leader Vladimir Voronin stepped down in September 2009 after two consecutive terms in office.

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Russia: 16 Years Old Schoolgirl Convicted In Chechnya For Helping Militants

Posted by Info on 21/10/2011

A 16-year-old schoolgirl from Ingushetia was convicted by the court in Chechnya for assistance to participants of the armed underground, of committing a crime under Part 5 of Article 33 and Part 2 of Article 208 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (aiding members of illegal armed formations). The investigators revealed that, in the period from last July to this June, a schoolgirl of the 11th class was engaged in supplying food to militants.
Allegedly the girl repeatedly travelled to Chechnya, where she received money from militants. For this money she purchased food at the market in Ingushetia, then transported it to Chechnya.

The court sentenced her to four months of imprisonment with restriction of freedom for a term of one year. After completion of her sentence, the girl shall be specially registered and shall be under the control of the law enforcement agencies.

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In Belarus New Law: Treason = Working For Foreign Organization.

Posted by Info on 20/10/2011

New legislation about the secret police, still known as the KGB, lifts restrictions on the KGB’s use of weapons,gives officers the authority to break into residences and offices and to put his political opponents behind bars.

A new ban on receiving foreign funds carries a two-year prison sentence, while simply calling for an anti-government protest can send someone to prison for three years. The legislation is expanding the definition of treason in such a way as to cast possible suspicion on anyone working for a foreign organization.

The past summer saw a wave of demonstrations against Lukashenko’s regime by people who clapped their hands, stomped their feet or simply smiled. Initially caught by surprise, police quickly started rounding up demonstrators even though their actions did not violate any law because they chanted no anti-government slogans and carried no signs.

The set of legal amendments, passed at a closed session of parliament earlier this month and posted on a government web site Thursday, now give police formal justification for clamping down on those taking part in the protests despite the absence of any political demands. Gatherings for “active inaction” will now be banned.

A separate legal amendment expands the definition of treason to include “assisting a foreign state, a foreign organization or its representative to the detriment of Belarus’ national security,” which is punishable by a prison sentence from seven to 15 years.

Further the new legislation makes it illegal for political parties and movements to receive any funds from abroad or keep their money in foreign banks. It introduces a two-year prison term for those violating the ban. This may further hurt the case of Alex Belyatsky, the jailed leader of Vesna, the most prominent human rights group in Belarus.

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Venice Commission Calls Belarusian Laws Repressive

Posted by Info on 19/10/2011

The Venice Commission noted during the plenary session ( 15 October ) that most of human rights organizations in Belarus had been deprived of registration during the last ten years. The Venice Commission also regrets the amendments to the Criminal Code suppressing the freedom of association.

The Belarusian legislators approved amendments, which significantly expand KGB powers allowing breaking in homes and banning foreign financing of NGOs. Once the draft law is adopted, the security services will gain the right to break into NGO offices and residential homes if they think a crime has been committed there or a suspect is hiding there, the Commission reminds in a press release.

The Commission also criticizes Belarus as the only European country using death penalty.

The Venice Commission is Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters founded in 1990. The Commission analyzes law and draft laws relating to constitutional right, including election standards, rights of minorities, etc. The PACE often uses the Commission’s conclusions as reflection of “European standards in democracy”.

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Venice Commission Adopts Opinion On Draft Law of Ukraine on Election

Posted by Info on 19/10/2011

In Venice during its plenary session last week 14-15,10,2011 the Venice Commission – adopted a joint OSCE/ODIHR opinion on the draft Law of Ukraine on Election of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine.

The opinion points out that the electoral system chosen in the draft law matches neither the one discussed by the Venice Commission representatives during their meetings with the Ukrainian authorities nor the one recommended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 1755 (2010). In addition, the choice of the mixed system – raising of the threshold for gaining mandates from 3% to 5% and banning electoral blocs – all changes were made by the majority unilaterally and without consultations with the representatives of the other political parties and civil society. These different changes do not facilitate the access of different political forces to parliament, several recommendations remain unaddressed.

The Venice Commission welcome the decision of the President of Ukraine not to introduce the draft law himself but rather to send it to the Verkhovna Rada so that different political factions can discuss and finalise this draft. This process should also involve civil society and thus help to build the trust of the Ukrainian society in the electoral process. more HERE

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ODIHR Accepts Russian Rules – Reduce Quotas Of International Observers

Posted by Info on 19/10/2011

The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has agreed to reduce quotas of international observers for Russia’s December parliamentary elections from 260 to 200. The body has already accepted an official invitation from Moscow.
A first group of observers, which will monitor the election campaign and administrative preparations, is expected to arrive at the end of October. The mission will include 40 long-term and 160 short-term observers.

Two hundred observers is, unfortunately, a bit less than planned. Lower numbers will have a negative impact on our ability to work efficiently… I really try to avoid the 2007 scenario,” said ODIHR spokesman Jens Eschenbaecher. Back then, the ODIHR failed to agree on the format of their mission with the CEC. As a result, the international body boycotted Duma and then presidential elections in 2008. The Central Election Commission has repeatedly accused the OSCE of double standards and of politicizing the election process.

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European Union Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October

Posted by Info on 19/10/2011

The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro:Human trafficking has no place in a civilized society. And yet trafficking is growing and has become a regular component of certain areas of the labour market, and a huge business for organized crime.”

Giammarinaro called on governments to improve anti-trafficking action and policy, and show consistency in effectively implementing a human rights-based approach and the adoption of a political agenda in which anti-trafficking action is a real priority. Border, immigration and law enforcement agencies should fully comply with protective obligations as soon as there is an indication that a person might have been trafficked.

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Uzbekistan: New Law On Detention Of Suspects

Posted by Info on 17/10/2011

The law “on keeping suspected criminals in custody during the investigation of a crime” came into force at the end of September. It is the first law ever introduced in Uzbekistan to establish the conditions of detention of individuals suspected of having committed a crime and those whose movements it is deemed necessary to restrict by detaining them in custody.

Lawyers are generally positive about the law, describing it as a genuine step forward compared to previous practices, which enabled conditions of detention to be dictated by intradepartmental instructions and orders.
“Compliance with this particular statute should, on the whole, make this an effective law. The scope of the law suggests that statute 18 will be fully incorporated into Regulations on Internal Order [regulation of custodial premises – editorial]”.

According to the article 19 of the new law managers of custodial institutions are required to inform detainees that any application or appeal they make to a state body will be handled by another institution.

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Money-laundering Case Against Khodorkovsky Opened In Germany

Posted by Info on 17/10/2011

German investigators accidentally found accounts under Khodorkovsky’s name worth between 15 million euros and 20 million euros ($20 million to $27 million) during a tax evasion raid. The details of the account, found on a CD-ROM containing data of Swiss private bank Julius Baer, may be evidence that Khodorkovsky did not pay taxes.

Khodorkovsky is serving a 13-year sentence in a prison on tax evasion, fraud and money-laundering charges that he and his supporters call politically motivated punishment from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for his political and commercial ambitions. The prison sentence stems from two trials, one in 2005 and the other in 2010.

The European Court of Human Rights has cleared Russia of political motivation in the first trial, it has ruled the Yukos trial unfair.

A money-laundering case would deal a blow to human rights activists who have rallied around Khodorkovsky, said Alexander Rahr, a Russia expert with the German Council of Foreign Relations. “An investigation would be a shock for those who said the money-laundering [charge] was Putin’s fantasy.”

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