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CrisisWatch Database

Region / country

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410 results found
Items 1 - 50 of 410 First   Previous   Next   Last

Georgia

  |  3 Aug 2015

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President Margvelashvili 13 July accused Russia of violating international law following demarcation activities by Russian troops stationed in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO) early month, which put portion of strategic oil pipeline under SO control. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini 15 July condemned Russian demarcation, warned against “provocative” actions. Army 8 July began joint military exercises with NATO countries. Over 3,000 protested in Tbilisi 18 July, denouncing Russia as “occupier”, calling for its withdrawal from SO and Abkhazia.

Azerbaijan

  |  3 Aug 2015

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Baku court 30 July sentenced high-ranking opposition member Asif Yusifli to 7.5 years’ jail for fraud and forgery; Yusifli denied charges, said verdict politically motivated. Baku court 1 July sentenced nine people to between four and 15 years’ jail for joining Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL).

Armenia

  |  3 Aug 2015

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Police 6 July removed remaining protesters opposing electricity price increase from Yerevan main street; some 40 protesters briefly detained, around a thousand moved to nearby Freedom Square. Protest leaders 21 July said they will continue demonstrations. Govt 3 July launched investigation into alleged police violence and abuses during protests in June. Russian military 7 July conducted combat readiness check of troops stationed in Armenia.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2015

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Opposition United National Movement (UNM) 10 June boycotted parliament session in protest over electoral reform plan proposed by ruling Georgian Dream coalition. Russian defence ministry 10 June said 1,500 Russian troops began exercises involving drones in Georgian breakaway republic South Ossetia; Georgian foreign ministry condemned drills, said they violated country’s territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jul 2015

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Ahead of European Games’ opening 12 June, govt refused entry to foreign rights groups and journalists: Amnesty International, Guardian among those barred from country until games end. OSCE 5 June reported govt gave it one month to close office in country. Amid ongoing govt repression, Emin Huseynov, rights activist wanted on tax evasion charges, flew to Switzerland 13 June after months of negotiations between govt and Swiss embassy, where Huseynov had been evading prosecution since Aug 2014. UN special rapporteur 2 June criticised govt’s ongoing repression of activists, called for immediate release of jailed rights defenders.

Armenia

  |  1 Jul 2015

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Thousands protested in Yerevan from 22 June against increase in electricity prices. Police dispersed hundreds of protesters 23 June; 25 reported injured, some 240 arrested. President Sargsyan 27 June announced that electricity price increase will be suspended; thousands of protesters remained on main road.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2015

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Parliament 9 May approved new cabinet following series of resignations and reshuffle. De facto president of breakaway republic Abkhazia 18 May appointed retired Russian General Anatoly Khurylov as army chief of staff, in move seen by some as signalling Moscow’s increasing control following Nov 2014 “alliance and strategic partnership”. EU Eastern Partnership summit in Riga 21-22 May recognised increased trade cooperation between Georgia and EU but did not grant visa liberalisation. U.S. and Georgian militaries 11 May began joint exercises aimed at bolstering cooperation between Georgia and NATO; Russia criticised move.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jun 2015

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Clampdown on opposition continued ahead of June European Olympics in Baku. Baku court 14 May extended journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s pretrial detention despite rights organisations’ calls for her release; court 6 May sentenced leading opposition figure Faradj Kerimli to six and a half years’ prison on drugs charges; Kerimli’s lawyer said charges fabricated. European Parliament VP 12 May called on govt to release jailed activists.

Armenia

  |  1 Jun 2015

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Representatives of Armenia and Iran met 24-25 May to discuss defence cooperation. Prosecutor general 4 May released opposition activists detained for “planning mass disorder” ahead of 24 April genocide centennial.

Georgia

  |  30 Apr 2015

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Elders of Kists, ethnic Chechens from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge 6 April called on govt to undertake measures to stop Pankisi youth recruitment by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). During late month visit to Georgia, Belarusian President Lukashenka said Belarus supports Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan

  |  30 Apr 2015

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Amid ongoing condemnation of govt crackdown on opponents, rights activist Rasul Jafarov sentenced 16 April to 6.5 years’ prison for tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship, human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev sentenced 22 April to 7.5 years’ prison on similar charges; rights groups said verdicts politically motivated. Alliance of human rights and sports NGOs 7 April called on European Olympic Committees to condemn govt crackdown ahead of first European Olympic Games to be held in Baku in June.

Armenia

  |  30 Apr 2015

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Increasing international recognition of 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottomans as genocide ahead of event’s centennial 24 April: Pope Francis 12 April, EU parliament 15 April and Germany 23 April said killings were genocide, prompting protest from Turkey. Opposition group 8 April announced plans to organise anti-govt protests 24 April: six group leaders detained for organising mass disorder.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2015

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De facto leader of breakaway region South Ossetia (SO) Leonid Tibilov and Russian President Putin signed “alliance and integration treaty” in Moscow 18 March, giving Russia responsibility for SO defence and security. Treaty condemned by EU, U.S. and Tbilisi; all said it amounted to annexation of occupied region. Russia early March launched large-scale air-defence drills including in breakaway Abkhazia and SO. Tens of thousands protested in Tbilisi 21 March calling for govt to step down.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2015

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Baku court 6 March extended pretrial detention of jailed journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 24 May. Ahead of inaugural European Games being hosted by country in June, Amnesty International 4 March issued report denouncing govt crackdown on civil society. Govt freed three activists as part of 18 March pardon ahead of New Year holiday Nowrouz. EU progress report 25 March critical of “regression in the democratic transition process”, situation for civil society organisations, detentions of rights activists. Authorities 4 March reported arrest of six men suspected of planning terrorist acts; also arrested four men suspected of recruiting people to fight in Syria.

Armenia

  |  1 Apr 2015

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Gagik Tsarukian, leader of Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), announced 5 March he was stepping down from position; follows Feb criticism against him by President Sargsyan and detention of several BHK members. Members of U.S. House of Representatives 18 March introduced resolution urging President Obama to recognise mass killing of Armenians during WWI by Ottoman forces as genocide; comes as Armenia prepares for events to mark centenary of killings.

Georgia

  |  2 Mar 2015

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First Deputy Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri appointed interior minister 2 Feb following Jan resignation of Aleksandr Chikaidze citing accusations he covered up deaths of two men in 2006; three former Interior Ministry officials including former Deputy Minister Irakli Pirtskhalva also arrested in connection with 2006 killings. Police officer arrested 7 Feb, charged with 20 Jan murder of father of one of men killed in 2006. Prosecutor General 17 Feb called for former President Saakashvili, wanted on charges of fraud, assault and abuse of office, to be extradited from Ukraine following appointment to lead Ukrainian reform Advisory Council. Russian media 5 Feb highlighted role of ethnic Chechens living in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge in recruitment to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) militant group. Russian President Putin 4 Feb signed law ratifying “strategic partnership” with breakaway region Abkhazia; Russian FM Lavrov 18 Feb signed “border agreement” with separatist South Ossetia region, agreement condemned by Georgian govt.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Mar 2015

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President Aliyev 3 Feb signed law facilitating media shutdowns. New charges brought against journalist Khadija Ismayilova, jailed since 5 Dec, including embezzlement, abuse of power, tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship: court 23 Feb found Ismayilova guilty of libel, ordered fine. Court 5 Feb sentenced two men accused of spying for Iran to thirteen, fourteen years’ prison. Court 18 Feb extended pretrial detention of rights activist Leyla Yunus by five months to 28 July; 23 Feb extended detention of husband Arif Yunus by additional five months. Rights activist Emin Huseynov 11 Feb reportedly took refuge at Swiss embassy, said victim of political persecution. EU SR for human rights visited Baku 23 Feb. Central Bank 21 Feb devalued currency sparking fears of inflation.

Armenia

  |  2 Mar 2015

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Media 3 Feb reported Russian soldier accused of killing seven 12 Jan to be tried at Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia; Armenian authorities 3 Feb reportedly called for soldier to be transferred to Armenian custody. Opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) 23 Feb staged parliament walk-out in protest at perceived govt crackdown on leader Gagik Tsarukian, who President Sargsyan early Feb called “evil” and said must be excluded from political process. Police 16 Feb said 200 officers hired to provide security for Tsarukian dismissed; BHK same day said several members imprisoned. Sargsyan 16 Feb said he has recalled parliament protocols on normalisation of ties with Turkey following years of strain, said Turkey’s govt has “no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols”.

Georgia

  |  2 Feb 2015

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PM Garibashvili 9 Jan met with EU foreign policy chief Mogherini, urged EU oppose planned pact strengthening ties between Russia and breakaway region South Ossetia; FM Beruchashvili 29 Jan warned Russia could annex region. NATO deputy SG Vershbow visited 29-31 Jan to discuss Georgian integration. Former President Saakashvili 13 Jan said “hundreds” of Georgian nationals fighting alongside Islamic State in Syria. Authorities 15 Jan reported Georgian national killed fighting in eastern Ukraine. Govt, opposition mid-month expressed support for new legislation to make joining or encouraging others to join illegal armed groups abroad punishable by prison sentence. Interior Minister Aleksandr Chikaidze 23 Jan resigned following death of man who accused him of involvement in covering up 2006 police killings.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Feb 2015

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Authorities 7 Jan announced ten arrested on suspicion of fighting in Syria, taking part in other militant activities. President Aliyev 21 Jan met with German Chancellor Merkel, dismissed criticism of human rights record. Court 27 extended pretrial detention of RFE/RL journalist Khadija Ismayilova, detained 5 Dec on charges of inciting attempted suicide, by further two months. Journalist Seymur Hezi sentenced 29 Jan to five years’ prison for hooliganism. Man self-immolated 8 Jan in Baku, authorities denied rumours death linked to demolition of homes.

Armenia

  |  2 Feb 2015

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Thousands protested outside Russian embassy and in country’s second city Gyumri mid-Jan after Russian deserter, Valery Permyakov, allegedly killed family near Russian military base in Gyumri. Soldier captured by Russian troops, Moscow announced he would be tried in close coordination with Armenian authorities, but protesters demanded he be tried in an Armenian court. At least fifteen reportedly injured as protesters clashed with police, over twenty detained. Some demonstrators reportedly called for Russian base to be closed. Six days after Permyakov’s arrest President Putin phoned Armenian counterpart to express condolences.

Georgia

  |  5 Jan 2015

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Govt issued note protesting Russian military exercises conducted in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO) early Dec. SO leader Leonid Tibilov 10 Dec said would probably sign treaty increasing integration with Russia early 2015. European Parliament 18 Dec endorsed EU association agreement with Georgia. Latvian FM said EU may grant visa-free access for Georgians in 2015. Currency continued to depreciate with Russia rouble. Ethnic Chechen became eighth Georgian reported killed fighting in Syria.

Azerbaijan

  |  5 Jan 2015

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U.S. 1 Dec said “increasingly concerned” over Baku’s record on human rights, restrictions on civil society, later in month said Baku’s crackdown threaten relations between countries. Court 5 Dec ordered investigative journalist with RFE/RL Khadija Ismayilova to be held in pre-trial detention two months on charges of pressing man to commit suicide. Authorities late month ransacked and shut down Baku office of RFE/RL, detained twelve journalists. Opposition held protest 14 Dec calling for release of political prisoners, amid reports of worsening health of jailed activist Leyla Yunus. President Aliyev 29 Dec pardoned 87 prisoners, including some considered political prisoners by rights groups.

Armenia

  |  5 Jan 2015

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Parliament 4 Dec voted 103-7 to join Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), despite protests. EEU came into force 1 Jan; agreement stipulates disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory not part of EEU. EU announced €10mn in new initiatives to assist Armenia. Weakening Russian rouble creating increasing hardship with exports and remittances falling, currency depreciating.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2014

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PM Garibashvili 4 Nov said Western-leaning defence minister Irakli Alasania dismissed following Alasania’s accusation that recent arrest of defence ministry and general staff as part of govt inquiry into corruption politically motivated; FM and European minister resigned in protest, Alasania’s party quit ruling Georgian Dream coalition leaving coalition without parliamentary majority. President Margvelashvili 14 Nov urged lawmakers to “unite on the path toward Europe”. Some 30,000 opposition supporters rallied 15 Nov against govt’s Russia policy, creeping annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia separatist regions; Tbilisi criticised 24 Nov “strategic partnership” deal signed between Russia and Abkhazia as attempt at annexation by Moscow, asked UNSC to review legality of treaty.Former President Saakashvili charged with abuse of office 27 Nov in connection with 2006 murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Dec 2014

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Rights crackdown continued: second lawyer barred from defending jailed activist Leyla Yunis early Nov; blogger Mehman Huseynov detained at Baku airport 10 Nov, prevented from leaving country; rights activist Elcin Namazov sentenced to fifteen days’ jail 25 Nov for disobeying police. OSCE 10 Nov called on authorities to cease repression of independent media and rights activists. Thousands of opposition supporters 9 Nov protested against govt, demanded release of political prisoners, called for end to President Aliyev’s rule. Former deputy defence minister Mehman Salimov arrested late Nov on corruption charges. Iranian President Rouhani mid-Nov visited Baku, met with President Aliyev to discuss bilateral relations.

Armenia

  |  1 Dec 2014

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Opposition supporters 5 Nov rallied in Yerevan to mark anniversary of arrest of nationalist Tsegakron party leader Shand Harutiunian and supporters, demanded their release; eight protesters reportedly detained. PM Abrahamian 7 Nov said several ministries to be merged into new Interior Ministry. EU 4 Nov pledged €140-170mn over next three years for justice reforms, public administration and private sector investment.

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2014

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PM Garibashbili 16 Oct said govt attempts to improve bilateral relations with Moscow only achieved progress in economic sector, political relations not yet normalised. Draft law on integration between Abkhazia and Russia published 13 Oct; would give Russia complete control over key govt functions including military, security, borders, foreign policy. Greeted with rare criticism by Abkhaz politicians. Prosecutor’s office 28 Oct said five current and former senior military officials arrested for misuse of state funds. Former Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia sentenced to 7.5 years imprisonment for torture; U.S. 23 Oct reiterated concern over prosecution of ex-Georgian officials.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Nov 2014

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Rights crackdown continued: libel charges filed against journalist Khadija Ismayilova, prevented from leaving country 11 Oct; pretrial detention of rights activist Leyla Yunus extended 24 Oct to 28 Feb, lawyer 29 Oct reportedly barred from representing her, U.S. State Dept 16 Oct expressed concern over her health; journalist Khalid Garayev 30 Oct sentenced to 25 day detention on vulgarity charge. Rasul Jafarov, rights activist detained since 2 Aug, reportedly requested presidential pardon 16 Oct. U.S. State Dept 11 Oct said closure of NGO IREX in Azerbaijan would hurt democracy promotion efforts. CoE Thorbjørn Jagland 14 Oct called on authorities to release Ilgar Mammadov, detained since March 2013 for organising unrest. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks 24 Oct urged govt to stop targeting human rights defenders. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) 15 Oct expressed deep concern over rights record, demanded early review of membership status by Jan 2015. Four opposition activists pardoned and released by President Aliyev; welcomed by EU as “positive first step”. Thousands of National Council of Democratic Forces opposition supporters rallied in Baku 12 Oct demanded govt resignation, end to repression of human rights defenders, closer integration with EU. Cooperation plan signed 13 Oct between Russian and Azerbaijani defence ministries.

Armenia

  |  1 Nov 2014

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President Sarkisian 10 Oct signed agreement to join Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on 1 Jan 2015. Thousands same day rallied in Yerevan in anti-govt protests. Tens of thousands 24 Oct continued protests in Yerevan, called for early elections; early vote dismissed 27 Oct by PM Abrahamian. President Sarkisian 17 Oct delayed decision on constitutional reform citing need for additional discussion with political groups. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks 9 Oct said efforts needed on gender equality, independence of judiciary. Large Russian military drills held 13-19 Oct at Kamkhud, Alagyaz training grounds; head of Russian air force 15 Oct said Russia will expand capacity of Erebuni airbase.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Oct 2014

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Rights crackdown continued: U.S. citizen and former deputy chief of pro-opposition youth group Yeni Fikir deported 12 Sept, U.S. State Department expressed concern; Baku office of NGO IREX raided 5 Sept by Azerbaijani security officials; UN Human Rights team 17 Sept prevented from visiting govt detention centers while investigating complaints of torture. Criticism over rights record increased: CoE Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks 8 Sept criticised authorities over deteriorating human rights conditions; European Parliament 18 Sept adopted resolution condemning persecution of human rights defenders, calling for targeted sanctions, dismissed by Baku as “completely biased”; U.S. President Obama 23 Sept criticised crackdown on NGOs; Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) head 22 Sept said Azerbaijan might be suspended from initiative following investigation. CoE Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Anne Brasseur visited 23-25 Sept, called for broad dialogue between authorities, political actors, civil society. Authorities 23 Sept arrested 26 suspected of joining militants in Syria and Pakistan. Turkish President Erdogan PM Davutoğlu visited 2 Sept and 19 Sept respectively; joint Azerbaijan-Turkey military exercise held 13-20 Sept.

Armenia

  |  1 Oct 2014

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Yerevan still moving closer to Russia than EU: Russian President Putin 1 Sept indicated Treaty of Accession of Armenia to Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to be signed at next meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at presidential level. Armenian FM Nalbandian 9 Sept said Nagorno-Karabakh no obstacle for country’s entry in Moscow-led initiative; 20 Sept said developing relations with EU cannot be at expense of relations with Russia, 21 Sept entry in EEU no threat to Armenia’s independence. EU official 24 Sept asked for clarification from Armenian govt over obligations of membership of Russia-led Customs Union. Armenian Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan 25 Sept met with Georgian counterpart, discussed military cooperation. 2,000 members of opposition protested 25 Sept in Abovian, further rallies announced ahead of joint anti-govt rally in Yerevan scheduled 10 Oct.

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2014

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Court 19 Sept seized properties of former President Saakashvili and his relatives. U.S. Defense Sec 7 Sept said Russia’s “blatant aggression” in Ukraine made U.S. and Georgia determined to build stronger military ties.

Armenia

  |  1 Sep 2014

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Yazidis demonstrated in Yerevan 14 Aug, called for govt to help Yazidis under siege in northern Iraq; deputy Chief of Staff pledged humanitarian aid. Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan 15 Aug said no import restrictions on U.S., EU goods after Armenia joins Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union in Oct. President Sarkisian 25 Aug denied reports govt pressured to join Union. Georgia PM Irakli Garibashvili met Armenian PM Abrahamyan in Yerevan, discussed bilateral cooperation. FM Nalbandyan visited Turkey 28 Aug for inauguration of Turkish President Erdogan.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Sep 2014

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Repression of rights activists continued including: activist Rasul Jafarov detained 2 Aug on tax evasion and other charges; activist Intigam Aliyev arrested 8 Aug on same charges, reportedly jailed for 3 months. Arif Yunus sentenced to 3 months pre-trial detention following 30 July arrest on treason and fraud charges. Rights activist Ilgar Nasibov attacked 22 Aug by unknown assailants in Nakhichevan exclave; attack condemned by U.S. 28 Aug. Opposition journalist Seymur Hazi detained 29 Aug on hooliganism charges. Criticism over rights record dismissed 28 Aug by Azerbaijani PACE delegate Elkhan Suleymanov. HRW 14 Aug called for Azerbaijan’s suspension from Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Iran late month accused Azerbaijan of being base of Israeli drone Iran downed 26 Aug.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2014

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Georgian authorities 1 Aug ordered pre-trial detention of former president Saakashvili, 14 Aug added him to country’s wanted list; additional charges of organizing assault on political opponent and embezzlement announced 5 and 13 Aug respectively. PM Garibashvili 11 Aug said investigation part of “efforts to end impunity” following letter from 4 U.S. senators expressing concern. U.S. VP Biden 22 Aug expressed support for Georgia’s bid to join NATO. Presidential elections in Abkhazia held 24 Aug after turbulent and controversial election campaign; opposition leader Raul Khadzhimba won and announced need to strengthen union with Russia. Rallies in support of Iraq’s Yazidis held 13 Aug.

Armenia

  |  1 Aug 2014

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PM Abramian 17 July said Armenia to sign agreement joining Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union in Oct. Country’s ascension to Moscow-led Customs Union put off several times over Armenian trade provision objections; sceptics say signing may not happen at all. OSCE representative on media freedom late July expressed concern over 26 June court ruling forcing media outlets to disclose sources. Prominent Armenian-Russian businessman arrested mid-July in Russia, claimed charges politically motivated.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Aug 2014

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FM Elmar Mammadyarov 1-3 July visited China for trade and diplomatic talks. Crackdown on rights figures continued: opposition activist Omar Mamedov 4 July sentenced to 5 years prison on drug charges; Reporters Without Borders 11 July criticised trial as “politically manipulated”. Chairman of opposition Musavay party youth wing reportedly detained 23 July; prominent activists Leyla Yunus and husband Arif Yunus called in for questioning 30 July, reportedly charged with treason and other crimes. Jailings condemned by UK minister for Europe and other European bodies.

Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2014

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Georgian prosecutors 28 July filed charges against former president Mikhail Saakashvili for abuse of power; U.S. 29 July expressed concern. Several foreign govts emphasised due process needed to be rigorously followed in trials of former govt. Ex-Tbilisi mayor and opposition figure Ugulava detained and jailed 3 July on similar charges awaiting trial. PM Irakli Garibashvili 31 July said judicial proceedings will be "objective and transparent”. Ongoing political tensions between loosely affiliated Georgian Dream coalition and opposition United National Movement (UNM) following June local elections. Incident near Armenian Tbilisi church in mid-July with men wielding steel bars, concerns about long-dormant ethnic issues and response by police. EU Association Agreement ratified 18 July. Court in breakaway South Ossetia region 18 July jailed Georgian for spying.

Armenia

  |  1 Jul 2014

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President Sargsyan 4 June met with OSCE chairman Burkhalter, discussed EU-Armenia relations and Nagorno-Karabakh. Sargsyan 18 June visited Tbilisi, discussed bilateral, regional issues with Georgian President Margvelashvili; Russian FM Lavrov visited Armenia 23 June, discussed Armenia’s possible accession to Eurasian Economic Union. Adoption of national Human Rights Action Plan 30 June commended by joint UN, EU, OSCE, CoE statement.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jul 2014

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Rights crackdown continued: prominent activists Arif and Leyla Yunus prevented from leaving country to attend conference 10-11 June due to passport seizure in April. U.S. expressed serious concern. Baku dismissed criticism over rights record as biased and inaccurate. Govt 23 June dropped plans to introduce jury trials. EC President Barroso 14 June visited Baku to discuss Southern Gas Corridor. Russian FM Lavrov visited Baku 18 June, said Azerbaijan not formally invited to Customs Union or Eurasian Economic Union, but Moscow welcomes any interested partner.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2014

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Local elections held 15 June: Georgian Dream coalition retained control over most local councils though with lower votes than expected; in S Ossetia parties favouring outright union with Russia fared best according to results released by de facto authorities. Pre-election period marred by violence against opposition National Movement candidates. 28th round of Geneva International Discussions on Abkhazia and S Ossetia broke down again 18 June; representatives from both separatist regions walked out after demanding discussion of return of over 200,000 ethnic Georgian IDPs to entities be removed from agenda. Georgia 27 June signed association agreement with EU. NATO 25 June announced will not invite Georgia to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan, formal step toward membership, at Sept summit; instead agreed to draw up cooperation package. U.S. congressional delegation visited 29 June, met with President Margvelashvili, PM Garibashvili, other officials; emphasised country’s “importance” to U.S..

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2014

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NATO SRSG for Caucasus and Central Asia 1 May praised Georgia’s efforts toward membership, said NATO looking at “next steps”. French President Hollande 13 May and European Council President Van Rompuy 14 May visited Tbilisi, met with President Margvelashvili and PM Garibashvili, discussed Georgia’s integration into EU and NATO; Van Rompuy announced Association Agreement to be signed 27 June. Approx 500 residents 29 May protested in Gardabani, demanded investigation into 28 May attack on ethnic Azerbaijanis by ethnic Georgians. EU 14 May hailed release of 17 Georgian nationals detained in breakaway South Ossetia region. Former health minister and opposition MP severely beaten in Tbilisi 27 May.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jun 2014

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Azerbaijan assumed chairmanship of Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers amid criticism by some European officials over ongoing rights crackdown: court 6 May found 8 youth movement activists guilty of organising “mass disorders”, possessing weapons and illegal drugs, sentenced to 6-8 years jail; opposition journalist sentenced to 8 years jail 15 May. Chairman of election monitoring organisation Anar Mammadli sentenced 26 May to 5 ½ years jail for falsifying election results, tax evasion, illegal business activities; U.S. embassy said charges “highly questionable”.

Armenia

  |  1 Jun 2014

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French President Francois Hollande on the 12th of May suggested that the European Union association with Armenia should allow for a commercial union between Armenia and Russia.

Georgia

  |  1 May 2014

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FM Panjikidze said country plans to sign association agreement by June with EU, which has brought date forward several times from original plan for Oct. PM’s envoy for relations with Russia met with deputy Russian FM in Prague for 6th time since late 2012; latter said talks “constructive”, Russia has no intention of blocking signing of association agreement between Georgia and EU. Russia released 3 Georgians convicted on spying charges in 2010. 3 Georgian journalists detained by Russian troops close to South Ossetia (SO) administrative boundary line (ABL) 15 April, freed next day by entity officials. Georgia continued to complain of “provocative” Russian helicopter, plane and drone over-flights over villages on side of SO and Abkhaz ABLs that it controls. Defence minister warned of threat from “anti-state organisations” in Armenian-populated Javakheti area, attempting to create atmosphere of instability; analysts say almost no real separatist threat in area, or support in Armenia for such aspirations. Defence minister 30 April called on NATO to deploy “defensive assets” in Georgia.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 May 2014

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President Aliyev met with Iranian President Rouhani in Tehran 9 April in sign of improving relations, signed cooperation agreements including on hydropower plant construction. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights criticised authorities over deteriorating rights, basic freedoms. Prominent analyst and Turkey-based journalist from Zerkalo newspaper detained in Turkey late April, deported to Azerbaijan and charged with espionage for Armenia; had attended civil society meetings with Armenian counterparts. Prominent rights activist detained 28 April, later released.

Armenia

  |  1 May 2014

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Acting economy minister said Armenia would sign agreement on joining Russian-led Customs Union in May or June, not 29 April as earlier reported; Yerevan has cited hundreds of objections which would raise tariffs on imports in delaying agreement. Russian ambassador issued statement seen by some analysts as blunt warning for Yerevan to quickly endorse Moscow-led bloc agreement or face damage to relations. Constitutional Court 2 April struck down several clauses of controversial new mandatory pensions law. PM Tigran Sargsyan, criticised over dire economy and pensions law, resigned 3 April. Turkish PM Erdoğan 23 April offered condolences to descendants of victims of mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during WWI; President Sargsyan dismissed gesture as ongoing denial of genocide.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2014

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Amid scrutiny of regional responses to Russian actions in Ukraine, President Aliyev 20 March reportedly said “a country’s territorial integrity cannot be changed without its agreement”. Court in N city Saki 17 March sentenced 2 leading opposition figures to 5 and 7 years’ prison for mass disorder over Jan 2013 unrest in Ismayili. 8 others jailed, 8 given suspended sentences. U.S. embassy said verdicts politically motivated, EU also critical.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2014

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EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle met with FM in Tbilisi 4 March, pledged continued support for closer ties between EU and Georgia. Talks between Georgian and Russian officials to discuss possible high-level meeting postponed twice early March. Prosecutors summoned former President Saakashvili for questioning as witness in several criminal cases including investigation into 2005 death of former PM Zurab Zhvania; U.S.-based Saakashvili said he will not return to Georgia for questioning.

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