Caucasus Theater

Shamil Basayev: "OK, so I'm a terrorist"

Russia says it is outraged by an interview with Chechen guerilla leader Shamil Basayev broadcast by the ABC TV network, and the foreign ministry summoned a senior US diplomat in Moscow to express its "strong indignation" over the show. In the interview, the warlord—who claimed responsibility for the deadly raid on a school in Beslan, South Ossetia—admitted he was a terrorist but said the Russians were terrorists too.

More than 320 people—half of them children—were killed in the Beslan attack last September. Russia is offering a $10 million reward for the capture of the warlord.

Dagestan: next Caucasian domino?

Is the Russian province of Dagestan going the way of neighboring Chechnya? This July 2 AFP account (online at Qatar's The Peninsula) makes a disturbingly good case:

Azerbaijan: pipeline opens, political space closes

What ironic timing. An official visit by the US Energy Secretary to Azerbaijan to mark the opening of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was immediately preceeded by violent repression of pro-democracy protests there. From the May 29 New York Times:

Washington - Samuel Bodman, the new secretary of energy, led the United States delegation to Azerbaijan last week to celebrate a huge moment in America's effort to diversify its sources of oil: The opening of a pipeline that will carry Caspian oil to the West, on a route that avoids Russia and Iran.

Turkish government threats halt conference on Armenian genocide

A conference questioning Turkey's official position on the World War I-era Armenian genocide has been cancelled following pressure from the government. The conference, entitled "Ottoman Armenians at the Decline of the Empire: Academic Responsibility and Issues of Democracy," was to start on May 26.

Turks protest Schwarzenegger for bad reason

A group of prominent businessmen in Turkey have issued a call for Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies to be banned from Turkish TV after the California governor endorsed a call by Armenian-Americans (a sizeable constituency in his state) for April 24 to be declared "Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide."

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