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CrisisWatch Database

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383 results found
Items 1 - 50 of 383 First   Previous   Next   Last

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged
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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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..

Armenia

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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”.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

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.

Georgia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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

Unchanged

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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