Central Asia Monitor 1.24

by Central Asia Monitor on 12/17/2012

Uzbek Citizen Commits Suicide in Moscow Jail After SNB Threats

The Russian human rights organization Memorial reported that Abdusamat Fazletdinov, a 19 year old Uzbek citizen, committed suicide in a Moscow jail after Uzbek SNB agents threatened him. Fazletdinov had been working in Kaliningrad and was arrested with four other citizens of Uzbekistan in Moscow while trying to fly back tot heir home country. Police said that they were all residents of the same neighborhood in Namangan and were on an international wanted list for membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir and for funding jihadist organizations. Memorial said that Fazletdinov had been interrogated by agents of Uzbekistan’s secret service and subsequently became extremely stressed and depressed. Russian prison officials said the incident is under investigation. (11 December CA-News)

Uzbekistan Railways Stops Sales of Round-Trip Tickets

Uzbekistan Railways has stopped selling train tickets for trips that originate outside of Uzbekistan to everyone but rail company employees and the disabled. The company said that it will still sell tickets for trips to CIS countries from Uzbekistan. Passengers must buy return tickets at the other end and in local currency, which typically means a higher price. Employees of Uzbekistan Railways said that the company’s debt to Russian Railways is on the rise, and that this measure is intended to reduce further debt from accruing. The current ban will last at least until the new year, but is likely to continue. (12 December CA-News)

Almaty Court Bans Another Opposition TV Station

The Bostandyk district court banned the K-Plus television station and website for providing information “contrary to the legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” As in other recent cases banning opposition media outlets, representatives of K-Plus were not present and the court based its decision on broadcasts on the labor unrest and the subsequent violent suppression of protests in Zhanaozen. The cases were initiated when a prosecutor accused K-Plus, other media outlets, and members of the political opposition of promoting hatred and inciting the overthrow of the government. (12-13 December RFI, Rosbalt)

Kazakhstan Urges US Not to Fear Eurasian Union

In a speech in Astana on 14 December, President Nazarbaev said that the customs union between Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Russia will be strengthened with the goal of creating a Eurasian economic union. He insists that members should maintain full political independence and that the union would only succeed if its decisions were based on consensus. Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Belarus, Yergali Bulegenov, added at a press conference in Minsk that other countries, including the United States, should not see the union as a threat. He explained that though the members want to cooperate on issues such as border security and counternarcotics, such cooperation is not directed against the interests of other nations. (14 December Rosbalt)

Libel & Slander Decriminalized in Tajikistan

On 13 December, Tajikistan’s parliament unanimously approved a bill to decriminalize libel and slander by moving them from the Penal Code of Tajikistan to the Civil Code. Under the change, journalists accused of either charge would no longer face prison terms that stood at two years for either offense. Instead, civil courts will now be able to issue fines should one be found guilty of either offense. The parliament left unchanged a criminal law that allows those who libel or insult the president to five years in prison. (13 December Asia-Plus)

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Adopt Border Cooperation Plan

Authorities in Tajikistan’s Sughd and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken provinces met last week to discuss the results of cross-border cooperation in 2012. The partners agreed that cooperation had been successful and adopted an action plan to improve cooperation over the next five years. The two sides also organized training to improve cooperation between police and local government officials in border communities. Conflicts over land and water resources are common and occasionally violent on sections of Kyrgyzstan’s borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. (14 December Info-SHOS)

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