Riot police dispersed an opposition rally in Azerbaijan's capital Oct. 23, beating and detaining protesters who defied an official ban on downtown demonstrations two weeks before parliamentary elections. Opposition groups say the government will try to rig the Nov. 6 vote and have been holding rallies nearly every weekend, clashing with police.
Presumed Chechen resistance fighters carried out a series of attacks in Nalchik, capital of the Russian Federation's Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, on the morning of Oct. 13. Facilities targeted included the local headquarters of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the city's airport. A statement posted on the kavkazcenter.com website identified the attackers as fighters from the Kabardino-Balkar sector of the [Mujahedeen of the] Caucasus Front.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."