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CrisisWatch Database

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362 results found
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Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

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.

Armenia

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Ukraine protested, withdrew ambassador after President Sargsyan endorsed 16 March referendum in Crimea (see Ukraine). Sargsyan in phone call to Russian President Putin 19 March reportedly voiced support for right to self-determination. Armenia one of only 11 states to vote against 27 March UNGA resolution affirming Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

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.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

During visit to Baghdad FM said Azerbaijan could ship Iraqi natural gas to Europe. New defence minister visited Brussels for talks with NATO 26 Feb on Azerbaijan’s role in Afghanistan mission. RFE/RL journalist questioned for “grave crimes” over allegations of passing “state secrets” to U.S. officials; U.S. embassy called charges “absurd”.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Govt strongly protested quickened pace of “borderisation” by Russian troops in South Ossetia, said building of fortifications and fences along administrative border picked up immediately after end of Sochi Olympics. PM Garibashvili met European Commission President Barroso 3 Feb, said Georgia’s EU integration “irreversible” and expects to sign Association Agreement by Aug. Russian President Putin early Feb said open to talks with Georgian President Margvelashvili; officials reportedly preparing to discuss possible meeting. PM Garibashvili, FM and other officials visited U.S. late month for talks with U.S. VP Biden; President Obama unexpectedly joined meeting. Former PM Merabishvili sentenced to 5 years for abuse of office, bribing voters, inefficient use of funds. Trial in absentia of ex-defence minister under former President Saakashvili Davit Kezerashvili began, but France ruled out his extradition over corruption allegations.

Armenia

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

PM Sargsyan met with Russian PM Medvedev in Sochi 24 Feb to discuss bilateral relations, including Russian-led Customs Union that Armenia plans to join. Authorities late Jan arrested former police officer for allegedly spying for Azerbaijan. Govt critics expressed dismay over more restrictive rules introduced for Armenian migrant workers in Russia.

Armenia

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Opposition parties unified over public hostility to law adopted by ruling Republican party mandating payroll deductions to be put into privately run retirement accounts; several protests against law during month. Constitutional Court 24 Jan suspended enactment of legislation pending final ruling regarding its constitutional legality.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Musavat Party withdrew from National Council of Democratic Forces opposition alliance, established in 2013.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Parliament 23 Jan passed unanimous resolution citing “extreme concern” over developments in Ukraine, adding “Russia will not be able to force either Georgia or Ukraine to reject their European choice”. Amid ongoing dispute over Russian “borderisation” of administrative boundary lines along breakaway Georgian regions, President Margvelashvili 20 Jan expressed indignation over Russian announcement it would extend “border zone” 11km deeper into Abkhazia to maintain security for Feb Sochi Winter Olympics, said move politically motivated, contravened international law. Head of Russian-backed South Ossetia (SO) entity Leonid Tibilov unexpectedly dismissed cabinet 20 Jan, citing delays in reconstruction, social and economic problems, also acknowledging reported misappropriation of at least $1bn in Russian funds; mentioned growing signs that Russia and SO may agree on de facto Russian “annexation” of SO, said no need for referendum as called for by opposition.

Armenia

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Russian President Putin visited Yerevan 2 Dec for meeting with President Sargsyan, agreed deal on low-cost Russian gas; around 1,000 protested visit. Turkish FM in Yerevan for meeting of Black Sea Economic Cooperation group 12 Dec, met with Armenian FM, first high-level Turkish visit since 2009.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Border officer killed in shoot-out along Iranian border 1 Dec, latest in sporadic incidents along border; countries’ relations strained over Baku’s charges of Iranian sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamists in Azerbaijan. Hundreds protested rising food, fuel prices 15 Dec; govt 2 Dec announced petrol price hike. Authorities arrested Anar Mammadli, head of Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, questioned on tax evasion, illegal business activity. FM denounced U.S. criticism of rights issues as “blackmail”. 2 disabled Karabakh war veterans committed self-immolation 25, 28 Dec; first died.

Georgia

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

26th round of Geneva talks involving Tbilisi govt and Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO) authorities ended in another deadlock 18 Dec, after previous round saw sides express cautious optimism on possible “non-use of force” agreement. Entity representatives blocking discussion of other issues including fate of Georgian IDPs unless such an agreement is reached, but Tbilisi insisting that Russia also signs agreement, pledge non-use of force; Russia refuses. Tbilisi again raised issue of “borderisation” of SO administrative boundary line by Russian troops, emphasising resulting hardship for local residents. European monitors early Dec reported almost 50km of heavy fortifications erected by mid-Nov, some 1km into Georgian-held territory, also Russian drone activity. European Council President Van Rompuy said EU willing to speed up signing of Association Agreement with Georgia by Aug 2014. Russian President Putin raised possibility of lifting visa requirements for Georgians. New series of charges and questioning of political figures from former governing UNM party began mid-Dec, including Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava charged with misappropriation of funds; former Deputy Prosecutor-General Davit Chkhatarshvili detained, charged with abuse of power and other charges over alleged role in 2012 prison abuse scandal. Former PM Merabishvili, arrested in May on charges including abuse of power, claimed authorities pressuring him to inform on former President Saakashvili. 

Armenia

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Govt 6 Nov signed cooperation agreement with Russia-led “Eurasian Economic Union”, seen as larger political component of Customs Union which govt decided to join in Sept. Dozens of anti-govt protesters clashed with police in Yerevan 5 Nov, several arrested, some sent to psychiatric hospitals.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Tensions with Russia increased, European Union Monitoring Mission expressed “concern” over Russian troops’ continued “borderisation” of administrative boundary of largely unrecognised “South Ossetia” entity. PM Ivanishvili quit and left politics, naming Irakli Garibashvili, 31-year-old interior minister, new PM 18 Nov. New President Margvelashvili, whose powers under new constitution mostly moved to parliament, sworn in. Country initialled Association Agreement with EU 28 Nov, hopes to formally conclude with signing in 2014.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

President Aliyev visited Turkey in reaffirmation of political and military alliance with Ankara regarding conflict with Armenia and coordination on energy projects. Council of Europe human rights commissioner called on Azerbaijan to make progress on human rights reforms ahead of its chairmanship of body beginning May 2014, amid reports of continuing pressure and detention of some opposition journalists.

Armenia

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Speaking at Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe 2 Oct, President Sargsyan denied widespread opinion of politicians and commentators that pressure from Russia played role in Sept decision to join Russian-led Customs Union, expressed hope that Armenia could still initial association agreement (AA) with EU. EU officials say not possible as AA agreement contains free trade clauses incompatible with Russian-led Customs Union membership.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

President Aliyev, in power since 2003, won third 5-year term in 9 Oct presidential election with 85% of vote; main opposition candidate Camil Hasanli received around 5%. Polls criticised by OSCE as “seriously flawed”, marred by “restrictive media environment”, allegations of intimidation; govt rejected “biased” report. U.S. said vote fell short of international standards. Opposition denounced vote as “fraudulent and illegitimate”. A few thousand opposition supporters rallied against result, also called for release of “political prisoners”, end to govt pressure on media. Ahead of vote, UN human rights agency expressed concern over “restrictive environment” faced by activists; EU also expressed concern over “continued pressure” on opposition activists, civil society, independent media; OSCE called situation “quite worrying”. Aliyev sworn in 19 Oct in unusually low key ceremony, replaced long-serving defence minister, more changes expected. Govt 21 Oct said no plans to join Russian-led Customs Union.

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Ruling Georgian Dream coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili won 27 Oct presidential election with 62% of vote; outgoing president Saakashvili’s UNM party candidate Davit Bakradze won 22%, former parliament speaker Nino Burdhzanadze 10%; turnout reported at 46.6%. PM Ivanishvili 22 Oct again said Saakashvili may face prosecution following election. Former defence minister under Saakashvili Davit Kezerashvili detained on Interpol warrant in France 15 Oct on corruption charges, govt seeking extradition. Former defence minister Bacho Akhalaia sentenced to nearly 4 years’ prison for abuse of office. NATO SG Fogh Rasmussen 2 Oct called on Russia to reverse recognition of breakaway Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia (SO), expressed concern over Russia’s demarcation of SO administrative boundary line and effect on local Georgians.

Armenia

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

President Sargsyan 3 Sept said Armenia to join Russian-led Customs Union and future Eurasian Economic Union following talks with Russian President Putin citing “national interests”. Govt said still hoped Armenia would be able to sign planned association agreement with EU in Nov but EU officials ruled this out. EU Enlargement Commissioner Füle criticised Russian “threats” and “undue pressure” on Armenia and other countries in region as “unacceptable”. Police arrested 9 people protesting in Yerevan against Customs Union move. Opposition activist Dmitry Harutiunian, detained 24 Aug during protest in Yerevan, put in pre-trial detention for 2 months, charged with insulting police.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Ahead of 9 Oct presidential election Human Rights Watch warned of govt repression of opposition. Son of one opposition figure beaten and stabbed by unknown assailants 23 Sept; son of another opposition leader Ali Kerimli jailed; Kerimli cited attempt to put pressure on him over his political activities. Baku court sentenced editor of Talysh minority newspaper Tolisi Sado to 5 years’ prison for high treason, incitement of ethnic/religious/racial hatred, drugs possession. EU Enlargement Commissioner Füle said country needs to make reforms on rights to move forward in EU dialogue.

Georgia

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Ahead of 27 Oct presidential election, 3 of 23 registered candidates seen as having realistic chances of getting enough votes to qualify for second round: PM Ivanishvili’s “Georgian Dream” candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili, Davit Bakradze of President Saakashvili’s UNM, and former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze. PM Ivanishvili said country plans to sign association agreement with EU early 2014, says still wants to improve relations with Moscow. Tbilisi sent protest note to Russia 13 Sept over Russian troops’ continued demarcation of administrative boundary line (ABL) with Georgian region South Ossetia (SO). U.S. and EU have expressed concern over Russia’s borderisation activities. Russian “embassy” general consul and wife shot dead in breakaway region of Abkhazia 9 Sept.

Armenia

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Opposition parties continue to promise autumn protests or “revolution” to force President Sargsyan from office. Already weak economy continuing to suffer from Russian increase in natural gas prices.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Russian President Putin visited breakaway Abkhazia 27 Aug for talks with local leader Ankvab, second meeting between the two in recent weeks; no results reported. Visit comes after Russia recently reduced funding to entity, where it has thousands of troops, over series of disagreements with de facto authorities. Putin visit drew official protest by Tbilisi via Swiss as countries have no diplomatic relations, and criticism from EU Monitoring Mission. Oct presidential election battle heating up, with more than a dozen candidates expected to vie for post held by term-limited incumbent Saakashvili. Ex-Saakashvili ally and former parliament speaker Burjanadze waging aggressive campaign, said PM Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition govt should have done more to mend ties with Moscow, said “not afraid of being called pro-Russian”. Tensions in south when authorities late-Aug dismantled recently-constructed mosque minaret, saying it lacked proper building authorisation.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

President Aliyev officially registered to run for 3rd term in 9 Oct presidential election as usually fractured opposition parties put forward united candidate. Electoral commission approved opposition National Council of Democratic Forces candidate professor Jamil Hasanli as candidate; Hasanli chosen as alternative candidate after Moscow-based playwright Rustam Ibrahimbayov turned down due to dual Russian-Azerbaijan citizenship.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Opposition groups 2 July nominated single candidate for Oct presidential election, who if victorious would stay in power for 2-year “transition period”. Govt said it would allow OSCE to observe election. 3 youth activists jailed for 15 days after distributing anti-govt stickers, leaflets.

Georgia

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Residents and IDPs from formerly ethnic Georgian Akhalgori district of South Ossetia (SO) mid-July reported Russian and SO military units no longer allowing vehicular crossings across that section of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), until now only area still open to regular vehicle crossings. 24th session of Geneva talks between Georgia and Russia late June again ended in deadlock. Russian official 20 July alleged U.S. Navy operating “biological facility” near Tbilisi, threatened to halt recent improvements in trade relations with Georgia; said lab contravenes “biological weapons” treaties, represents “powerful offensive capability”. Followed earlier allegation that recent outbreak of African swine fever in Russia came from Georgia. Georgia and EU 22 July finalised details of planned Nov association and free trade agreement with EU. Rare private meeting early July between PM Ivanishvili and Davit Bakradze, frontrunner as United National Movement (UNM) candidate, and prominent Georgian Dream (GD) parliament speaker; Ivanishvili afterwards called for end to partisan political attacks. UNM primary vote in Zugdidi city disrupted by rock-throwing individuals, GD denied responsibility. Prosecutor-General in rare rebuff to PM Ivanishvili rejected his call to reverse June decision to release former prison official who published controversial videos released before 2012 elections that helped defeat Saakashvili’s UNM that showed guards torturing inmates.

Armenia

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

June increase in Russian natural gas prices caused rise in electricity tariffs and public transport fares; sporadic but widespread protests followed. Russian gas price increase seen across political spectrum as “punishment” for Armenia’s plans to formally sign association and free trade agreement with EU late Nov.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Ruling New Azerbaijan Party nominated incumbent second-term president Aliyev as its candidate in Oct 2013 presidential elections. Situation remains guarded as authorities mull possibility opposition may try to field united candidate for first time. Aliyev signed into law controversial bill criminalising so-called defamatory and offensive views posted online. Aliyev met with European Council President Van Rompuy for talks on energy, rights, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Armenia

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Rising anger at Russia over Moscow’s military assistance to Azerbaijan (see Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan)), steep rise in price of Russian natural gas supplies, Moscow’s perceived attempts to use its leverage to coax Yerevan into Russian-led customs union/planned broader political “Eurasian Union”.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2013

Deteriorated

Rising tension with Russia and domestically within cohabitation govt. Relations worsened with Russia over its demarcation of Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) separating Georgian-controlled areas from South Ossetia (SO). Georgia claimed Russia “annexing” territory by installing fences deeper into areas previously under Georgian control. Russian “border guards” also detained further Georgian citizens near ABL. Georgian FM expressed concern, delivered protest note to Russia through Swiss Embassy. Georgian Patriarch Ilia II 1 June appealed to President Putin; European Union Monitoring Mission and NATO also condemned “borderisation” by Russian troops. Putin in 11 June interview said Moscow willing to restore relations with Georgia “in full scale” and called for cooperation combating crime and terrorism, but “cannot imagine” reversal of recognition of Abkhazia and SO. Russian-Georgian envoys met again 5 June to discuss trade, economy issues, limited results. Rising tensions within cohabitation govt ahead of Oct presidential elections as Interior Ministry 16 June claimed to have found large arms cache in west, videos depicting torture and rape of 2 detainees by police in 2011; several people including 3 acting, 1 former law enforcement officers arrested. Govt said it showed “systemic nature” of abuses under President Saakashvili’s UNM party, which condemned violence in tapes while saying they were “planted” among arms, which were purposefully hidden after 2008 war with Russia. Pro-Saakashvili Tbilisi city officials arrested and charged over alleged corruption; NATO chief Rasmussen, visiting Tbilisi 27 June, expressed concern over developments in Georgia. PM Ivanishvili hinted he may quit politics after Oct presidential vote. Revelations came as speculation mounted that Ivanishvili govt may arrest Saakashvili. Deaths of 7 Georgian NATO troops in Afghanistan in targeted suicide bomb further fuelled domestic political tensions.

Armenia

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

President Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia won 5 May municipal elections in Yerevan with over 58% of vote; opposition alleged vote rigged. For further information please refer to “Opposition casting about for a new catalyst”, Eurasianet, 3 May 2013, here.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Deputy interior minister arrested on blackmail allegations; agriculture minister temporarily stepped down over corruption investigation involving senior ministry officials; former PM Vano Merabishvili and former health minister Zurab Chiaberashvili, both senior allies of President Saakashvili, arrested for corruption. Prosecutor General late month said Saakashvili may also be questioned over alleged misuse of state funds. Saakashvili criticised reported govt statements on possible resumption of Russian gas imports, citing need for independence from Russia. FM criticised Russian installation of barbed-wire fencing along administrative boundary around breakaway region South Ossetia; countries set to discuss early June. Russian troops 30 May reportedly detained Georgian national near administrative boundary. National Olympic Committee agreed that Georgian athletes will participate in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Govt announced creation of special investigative group to look into Aug 2008 war with Russia and “possible criminal activities during and after”.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Azerbaijan protested after Iran 30 April arrested 2 Azerbaijani citizens, released 19 May. Visiting EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle 3 May said country must meet commitments on democracy, rights. OSCE 2 May criticised Azerbaijan for failing on its commitment to decriminalise defamation. Parliament 15 May controversially voted to tighten internet libel laws, prompting criticism from opposition, media rights groups.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Opposition Azerbaijani Popular Front Party activist arrested and sentenced to 10 days’ jail for taking part in unapproved anti-govt protest in Baku. FM Mammadyarov visited Israel in latest sign of closer relations between secular Shiite Baku and Tel Aviv. 

Georgia

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Russian FM Lavrov in media interview 11 April welcomed pragmatism on part of Georgian PM Ivanishvili, said Moscow ready to expand ties with Tbilisi, but its recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is irreversible. Several thousand supporters of President Saakashvili rallied in Tbilisi 19 April. 27 April by-elections to fill 3 vacant parliamentary seats all won by Georgian Dream candidates.

Armenia

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

As president Sargsyan sworn in for 2nd term 9 April, defeated candidate Raffi Hovannisian, who continues to contest result of Feb presidential poll, held “alternative inauguration” drawing several thousand supporters.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

Continued tensions with Russia despite rhetoric of rapprochement. Officials met for 2nd round of talks on normalization 1 March, however Russian President Putin 12 March met with Abkhazian de facto president Aleksandre Ankvab in Moscow to discuss cooperation, prompting criticism from Georgian FM Panjikidze. Parliament 7 March adopted resolution reaffirming country’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic foreign policy. Parliament 21 March approved motion removing president’s authority to dismiss govt and parliament. Georgia and U.S. held joint military exercise prompting Russian criticism; Tbilisi expressed “grave concern” over snap Russian military exercises in Black Sea late month. Latest round of Geneva talks with Russia late month reportedly ended inconclusively.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

Police 10 March again violently dispersed several hundred demonstrators in Baku protesting deaths and alleged abuse of conscripts in military, in latest of series of unsanctioned protests on issue; 2 more conscripts died during month. Police detained several activists, charged 3 with drugs, weapons possession. Leader of opposition Musavat party beaten up by unknown assailants 14 March.

Armenia

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

As supporters of defeated candidate in Feb presidential election Raffi Hovannisian continued to rally against result, Hovannisian 4 March made formal complaint to constitutional court alleging electoral fraud, went on hunger strike 10-29 March calling for President Sargsyan to step down. Court ruled no violations during vote. Sargsyan 25 March signalled readiness to engage in talks with Hovannisian.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Political tensions heightened early Feb when ruling Georgian Dream (GD)-dominated parliament 7 Feb postponed President Saakashvili’s annual address to MPs. Saakashvili next day tried to give speech at national library, however some 300 protesters, including some individuals recently released as political prisoners, appeared to block entrance, some assaulted opposition MPs. PM Ivanishvili and Saakashvili both issued conciliatory statements following clashes; parties came together to discuss constitutional amendments proposed by GD restricting president’s ability to effect change of govt without parliamentary approval, and opposition United National Movement (UNM) proposal to enshrine pro-Western foreign policy in constitution. Negotiators 20 Feb announced parties reached agreement, but implementation not possible due to disagreement on amnesty for public servants, proposed by UNM. Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava charged with money laundering and misspending public funds; denies charges. Second meeting between Georgian and Russian officials on normalising relations scheduled 1 March.


Azerbaijan

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

President Aliyev responded to Jan spontaneous unrest in Baku and Ismayili by removing region’s governor and warning local officials and their children against “obnoxious behaviour”; opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov and journalist Tofiq Yaqublu arrested and charged with organising Ismayili unrest, several others also detained. Prominent writer Akram Ailisli came under attack over novella Stone Dreams about ongoing war with Armenia, with officially-promoted burnings of his books in Baku. President Aliyev signed decree stripping Ailisli of honours, pension; wife and son fired from jobs.

Armenia

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

President Sargsyan re-elected to 2nd term in first round presidential election 18 Feb with 58.64% of vote. Main opponent, American-born former FM Raffi Hovannisian, took 2nd place with unexpectedly strong 36.75%; refused to recognise results. Several thousand rallied in Yerevan against electoral process over following days. OSCE criticised lack of real competition in election.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II visited Moscow 22-24 Jan, met with Russian President Putin; groups of Georgian entrepreneurs also visited Moscow to discuss economic relations. Defence minister Irakli Alasania relieved of his position as first deputy PM by PM Ivanishvili due to leaked internal discussion regarding his possible candidacy for position of president. Scandal broke after prosecutors announced high-ranking officials from previous govt had systematically blackmailed public figures after filming them engaged in homosexual activities; Saakashvili denied knowledge or involvement. 190 prisoners released as part of 13 Jan amnesty after being recognised as political prisoners by parliament Dec 2012.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Thousands protested in central town Ismayili 23, 24 Jan demanding resignation of local governor Nizami Alekberov and setting fire to cars, buildings; dozens arrested. Hundreds rallied in Baku 26 Jan in solidarity with Ismayili protesters; dozens of protesters arrested. Hundreds protested in Baku 12 Jan calling for resignation of defence minister over allegations of hazing and bullying in military following 7 Jan death of army conscript; 21 men fined for participating in demonstration under new law on mass gatherings. Around 1,000 shopkeepers protesting against rent increases clashed with police in Baku 19 Jan.

Armenia

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

8 candidates registered for 18 Feb presidential election. Candidate Andreas Ghukasyan, manager of private radio station, began hunger strike 21 Jan after his bid to have incumbent president Sargsyan rendered ineligible for registration was rejected by electoral commission. Other opposition candidates questioned accuracy of voters list, warned of possible irregularities. Sargsyan reaffirmed pledges to ensure proper conduct of election. Candidate Paruyr Hairikian wounded in attack by unidentified gunman 31 Jan.

Azerbaijan

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

After almost a year of negotiations, Azerbaijan and Russia 9 Dec allowed agreement on Gabala radar station, last Russian base in country, to lapse; Russia to withdraw its almost 1,000-strong contingent within a year, expected to relocate radar and missile shield to N Caucasus. Govt 26 Dec pardoned 2 jailed journalists, 1 blogger, several rights and opposition activists. Police forcibly dispersed dozens of opposition activists attending unsanctioned rally in Baku 10 Dec. Court 3 Dec found 4 men guilty of terrorism, high treason, for plotting bomb attacks ahead of Eurovision Song Contest and links with Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Georgia

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Detentions and questionings of former middle- and high-ranking officials continued: former PM Merabishvili taken for questioning 1 Dec for using fake passport travelling to Armenia; 2 former ministers, several others arrested and released on bail later in month in corruption investigation. NATO SG Fogh Rasmussen 5 Dec indicated he was content with reassurances from new govt over arrests. Sharp spike in popularity ratings for Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream coalition since elections. Significant steps towards Georgia-Russia rapprochement, culminating in 14 Dec meeting in Geneva between Russian Deputy FM Grigory Karasin and Georgian PM’s Special Representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze. Abashidze said meeting envisaged creating new channel of communication and political dialogue; sides agreed to continue direct talks without assistance of international mediators. Talks to focus on trade and humanitarian areas of cooperation, Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on back burner.

Armenia

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Prosperous Armenia Party 12 Dec announced its leader, wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukian, would not run in 18 Feb 2013 presidential election; former president Ter-Petrossian also said he will not run. President Sargsyan unlikely to face challenger in race.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Chechen president Kadyrov met with President Aliyev and PM Rasizade during official visit to Baku aimed at attracting Azeri investment in Chechnya; also met with head of Muslim Administration of the Caucasus, discussed rise of religious extremism, suggesting possible future cooperation between Azerbaijan and Chechnya in fight against terrorism. Amid increasing concern over oppression of minorities and opposition, parliament adopted amendments to law on public gatherings increasing fines for unsanctioned demonstrations. Around 100 opposition activists protested in Baku 17 Nov. 4 suspects accused of planning terrorist attacks went on trial; accused of cooperating with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. As Baku hosted UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum, visiting OSCE representative on freedom of media criticised govt crackdown on press freedom.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Despite agreement by new PM Ivanishvili and President Saakashvili to work together, signs of cracks emerging over budget and arrests of former govt officials. Tensions between ruling Georgian Dream coalition and President’s office ignited by dispute over 2013 State Budget, drafted 6 Nov, which saw funding for President’s Administration, National Security Council and Tbilisi municipality slashed. Saakashvili’s UNM slammed funding cuts as “politically motivated”. Arrest of former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia on charges of exceeding official powers and torture marked beginning of string of detentions of former interior ministry officials on charges of illegal confinement, illegal surveillance, damage of property, exceeding official powers. Govt responded to international, domestic concerns by promising to observe due process; Ivanishvili said he would not insist on impeachment of president, but his Georgian Dream parliamentary majority will initiate early adoption of constitutional changes set to significantly cut presidential powers. Ivanishvili 22 Nov said govt intends to establish relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia; also said ready to meet Russian officials, though would not visit Russia. New govt appointed Zurab Abashidze as special envoy to Georgian-Russian affairs; Abashidze proposed “new, independent” format for Moscow-Tbilisi talks. Reports that Russian embargo on Georgian wine, water may be lifted.

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CrisisWatch N°128

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