Monday, October 17, 2005
Walk for Belarusian Democracy
Three of us made it the 12 km to the Belarusian embassy in London. Although ours was one of the smaller walks taking place that day, our signs and our old-style Belarusian flag attracted a lot of notice. We got a lot of support from people who recognised our flag, and we were approached by several others who wanted to know more about why we were walking.
Many thanks to the participants, and to visitors to this site for all your good wishes.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Belarus walk tomorrow
We've heard from the Metropolitan Police concerning the walk and have confirmed with them that our planned route is OK. The walk will go ahead rain or shine.
Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Three days till walk for Belarus
If you're travelling to the site of the walk by Tube, please remember that there will be engineering works on the District and Piccadilly Lines. Fortunately, all other lines should be running normally.
Azeri opposition 'to protest every day'
Major opposition Azadlig (Freedom) bloc may embark on unsanctioned protests on a daily basis, chairman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) has said.
The PFPA chairman said the opposition will continue its protests but the date of the next rally is yet to be determined.
“The authorities won’t be able to intimidate opposition supporters, who have been struggling for democracy for 10 years. Our goal is to hold peaceful protest actions. We do not maintain that our rallies must take place in the city center alone.”
Kasparov news conference stopped for 'safety exam'
Fire safety inspectors in Russia’s Siberian region of Kemerovo have closed down the Davydov Tavern chosen as a venue for a news conference that was to be held Tuesday by prominent liberal politician and former chess champion Garry Kasparov.
Authorities said the tavern would be closed for five days pending a regular examination by the local fire inspectorate, the Gazeta.Ru news website reported.
Igor Panin, the owner of the tavern, reported that he had learned of the decision on Tuesday morning from local journalists and Garry Kasparov. Panin believes that by ordering the closure, the local government sought to disrupt the meeting planned by the opposition leader.
Dushanbe's Jews face loss of synagogue
Mikhail Abdurahmanov, Rabbi of Tajikistan, declared that if the synagogue in the capital city is pulled down he will in protest leave his post and repatriate to Israel.
Dushanbe Mayor’s Office insists that the community should rent another building or accept a plot of land on which to build a synagogue in the future. But the community has no means to rent facilities, even more so to build anything.
If the official proposal is accepted, Dushanbe will be left without a single synagogue, Rabbi Abdurahmanov said as cited by the Jewish News Agency.
Tajibaeva on hunger strike
Mutabar Tajibayeva, leader of the Fiery Hearts Club that promotes human rights in the city of Ferghana, an organizer of the movement Civil Society, went on a hunger strike as a protest against illegal arrest.
Tajibayeva was arrested on the eve of departure for an international conference of human rights activists in Ireland. She had told journalists on October 7 that she was leaving for Tashkent that very evening.
"I'm scheduled to go to Tashkent today but I do not know if I make it or not. I'm under surveillance now. Several cars tail me constantly. No, I'm not afraid of detention. Deputy Prosecutor General Anvar Nabiyev said at the trial in Tashkent that I support the opposition and that I called for armed action. He was lying."
Journalists warned about Andijan trial coverage
Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry warned journalists today about their coverage of the trial of 15 alleged Islamist extremists accused over an uprising in the eastern province of Andijon.
In a statement, the ministry denounced a report that the defendants had been tortured prior to the Supreme Court trial that began on 20 September, when the men all pleaded guilty to leading an armed insurgency.
It said that the Interior Ministry is calling on journalists to strictly abide by journalistic ethics and principles and to wait until the decision of the court.
Narodnaya Volya editor appeals to parliament
Iosif Syaredzich, editor in chief of the opposition daily "Narodnaya volya," has appealed to the Chamber of Representatives, Belarus's lower house, to help stop what he sees as the persecution of his newspaper by the authorities, Belapan reported on 11 October. Belsayuzdruk, Belarus's state monopoly operator of a national network of press kiosks and newsstands, terminated a contract last month for the distribution of "Narodnaya volya," while a Minsk-based printing plant annulled its contract for printing the daily. "Narodnaya volya" is now printed in Russia and distributed through the state postal service Belposhta (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 2005). In addition, Chamber of Representatives deputy Volha Abramava has sent a letter to Information Minister Uladzimir Rusakevich asking him to explain the reasons for the termination of the distribution and print contracts with "Narodnaya volya."
Polish ambassador returns to Belarus
Poland's Foreign Ministry said today the country has sent its ambassador back to Belarus three months after recalling him amidst diplomatic problems between the neighboring countries.
The ministry said Ambassador Tadeusz Pawlak started work at the Polish Embassy in Belarus on 11 October.
Poland withdrew its ambassador in a sign of protest over what the Polish government said were violations of democratic principles and human rights by the Belarusian government.
Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Checko said earlier this week that the temporary withdrawal had sent the intended message.
Checko also noted that following European criticism, the opposition in Belarus was able to nominate a candidate for next year's presidential election.
Russia, Armenia practice putting down protests
Russian and Armenian special forces practiced quelling an anti-government uprising at a joint exercise in southern Russia on Monday, an interior ministry spokesman said.
In a mock-up of a real protest around 50 demonstrators led by "provocateurs" converged on a square in front of a government building demanding their wages be paid and the authorities' resignation, the spokesman told AFP. Special forces officers intervened as demonstrators burst into the building and took a number of hostages.
The exercises come amid signs of nervousness in the Russian administration following popular uprisings in the three former Soviet republics of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Khodorkovsky's whereabouts still unknown
Confusion and mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former head of oil giant Yukos who was found guilty of tax evasion and fraud.
When lawyers for Mr Khodorkovsky went to meet their client, they were told he had been moved from a Moscow jail to finish his sentence at another prison.
Authorities declined to give details, and speculation has been rife as to where the troubled tycoon will end up.
After being held in Moscow, the pair have been sent to a penal colony to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
Newspaper reports have claimed that the two men are heading for Siberia, while others have asserted that they will be held in prisons closer to Moscow.
Russia's Federal Prison Service said that relatives would be contacted by mail - which is the normal procedure - when Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev arrive at their final destination.
Radio Free Europe has more.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Kazakh police permit first unsanctioned rally
Deputy of the parliament Zauresh Batalova met with her voters in the center of Alma-Ata on October 8. Russian media outlets seem to have missed importance of the event entirely but Ferghana.Ru news agency is convinced that it may be remembered in history of Kazakhstan as the first successful action staged by opponents of the regime. Navi.Kz reports nearly 2,000 participants of the impromptu rally in Alma-Ata. Representatives of practically all parties and movements of the opposition addressed the rally.
"Zauresh as such does not matter," a protester told Ferghana.Ru. "What counts is that the opposition staged an unauthorized action. And the cops, they proved unable to do anything about it. Or did not want to? In any case, this is the first time something like that is happening in Kazakhstan. As a rule, actions off this sort end in dispersal, administrative trials, and 15 days in a detention cell. But not today!"
Acting legislation permits deputies of the parliament to meet with their voters. Organizers of the rally applied for official authorization and were denied it on the pretext that the rally would "interfere with traffic". Suspecting that the ban would unlikely stop the determined opposition, city fathers promptly arranged some sort of a kid festival in the square where the rally was to be held and posted police units all around it.
Speakers at the rally (prominent opposition leaders Batalova, S. Abdildin, B. Abilov, O. Zhandosov, G. Yergaliyeva, A. Kozhakhmetov, A. Kosanov, I. Savostina, T. Tokhtasynov, and others) demanded release of dissenter Galymzhan Zhakiyanov from prison and an end to harassment of independent media outlets.
Rights activist arrested in Uzbekistan
Renowned Uzbek human rights activist Mutabar Tajibaeva was arrested, Paris-based Central Asia newspaper reported.
In the night of 8 October, Tajibaeva was supposed to leave for Dublin together with Tolib Yakubov, chairman of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), to participate in the international conference on protection of human rights defenders.
On that night, the house of Tajibaeva was surrounded with police. More than 20 law-enforcement officers with militia officials, six special force agents in masks, entered the house with submachine guns and bludgeons and searched there.
Tajibaeva is a chairwoman of the Ardent Hearts Club in the Uzbek city of Ferghana. She is also one of the founders of the national movement Civil Society. In the recent years, the authorities have persecuted Tajibaeva for her political views and open civil position.
Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, is urging his readers to write their government representatives and ask them to intervene in Tajibaeva's case.
Armenia: Murder suspect re-elected mayor
The mayor of a small town near Yerevan who was arrested late last month after reportedly shooting dead a local rival has been reelected for another three-year term, election officials said on Monday.
Official results of Sunday’s election showed Armen Keshishian winning nearly 50 percent of the vote, against 41.5 percent polled by his sole challenger for the post of Nor Hajn mayor. It is the first time that a jailed person wins an election in post-Soviet Armenia.
Keshishian has been under police custody since a September 24 bitter argument with the head of the local power distribution network, Ashot Mkhitarian, which resulted in the latter’s death. Witnesses, among them two police officers, said the incumbent mayor fired several gunshots at Mkhitarian from an almost point-bank range.
Government plants 'gay' supporters in opposition
Members of Belarus's democratic opposition were bracing for some kind of provocation to take place during their congress in early October. They were, however, taken aback by the form that this action took. A group of young people dressed in colorful clothing carried signs declaring that members of Belarus's sexual minority support democrats, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 October. Before cameras from Belarus's national television stations, they expressed their hope that upon coming to power, the opposition would legalize same-sex marriage. The leader of Belarus's registered movement of gays and lesbians said his group had nothing to do with the rally. The "gay" theme was nevertheless the main focus of Belarusian television broadcasts on the congress, according to glavred.info.
It is too early to say what effect this "performance" will have on the rating of the opposition's new candidate, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, but organizing such rallies by previously unknown groups of "gays and lesbians" has a long history in political campaigning in the former Soviet Union. It remains among the main weapons in the arsenal of "black PR," or dirty tricks.
The whole article is very interesting -- and appalling. There are so many things wrong with this that it's hard to know where to start.
Peruvian student killed in Russia
A group of young men stabbed and beat one Spanish and two Peruvian students in Voronezh in what appeared to be the latest in a series of xenophobia-related attacks. One of the Peruvians, an 18-year-old first-year student, died on the way to the hospital.
Prosecutors in Voronezh, a city of 1 million located 580 kilometers south of Moscow, called the Sunday evening attack an act of hooliganism, and the region's governor concurred that it could not be considered a hate crime because a Russian student was also injured.
The three foreign students were walking with a Russian student near the Olimpik Sports Complex on the outskirts of Voronezh at around 6 p.m. Sunday when they were attacked by 15 to 20 young men carrying knives and "blunt metal and wooden objects," Galina Gorshkova, a spokeswoman for the Voronezh regional prosecutor's office, said by telephone Monday.
Peruvian national Enrique Arturo Angeles Hurtado, a first-year student at the Voronezh State Architecture and Civil Engineering University, died as he was being taken to the hospital, Gorshkova said. He had suffered several blows to the head and two stab wounds in the hip, she said.
The other Peruvian national, Alexander Manuel Navarro Ayala, 18, was hospitalized with a concussion and was in stable condition Monday, said Egorov Ramirez Hinojosa, consul-general at the Peruvian Embassy in Moscow.
Spanish national Mario Potino Rodriguez, 30, an intern in the Voronezh State University's philology department, was hospitalized with a concussion and bruises and also was in stable condition,
Gorshkova said the Russian student suffered minor injuries but was not hospitalized.
Voronezh prosecutors said they were investigating the incident as an act of hooliganism, rather than a racially motivated attack, a distinction under Russian law that would mean a lighter prison sentence if any attackers were convicted.
Sunday's attack was the latest in a series of apparently racially motivated attacks in Voronezh. Over the past five years, 13 foreign students have died in racially motivated slayings, said Gabriel Kotchofa, president of the Foreign Students Association in Russia.
Khodorkovsky moved - but to where?
Yesterday, the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) announced that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were transferred from the Matrosskaya Tishina prison into the penitentiary of low security, where they going to spend eight years. The place of their incarceration most likely will become known today. The sources in FPS say that both prisoners will not be doing their time far away from Moscow because the General Prosecution Office is ready to come up with new charges. The attorneys of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev think the both their clients could still be in Matrosskaya Tishina.
It was not known until the very last day that inmates Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, sentenced to eight years in prison, are being readied for transfer. Moreover, the fact of their transfer to the prison labor camp was doubted even by the General Prosecution Office.
The head of the Matrosskaya Tishina Fikret Tagiev confirmed to Kommersant that he does not have anymore prisoners with names Khodorkovsky and Lebedev (they had to be transferred 10 days after the verdict was enforced and the temporary prison received the copy of the court’s decision). Tagiev suggested asking for further comments from the FPS of Moscow and Moscow Region.
“Honestly, I did not pay much attention to that,” Vladimir Davydov, head of the Main Department of FPS told Kommersant. “On Sunday we had large scheduled transfer – several dozen inmates were sent to their final destinations, where they will be doing their prison terms.”
Then, General Davydov asked to call back in five minutes and said that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were among the transferred prisoners. “We did not make any exclusion for them,” the General reported. “They went through the same procedure as the rest of the prisoners. And that is how it happens usually. The prisoners are not told in advance about the time and date of transfer. Right before the departure, the warden walks into the cell, calls the name of the prisoner and asks him to walk out of the cell with personal belongings. The prisoner is given time to gather the things. Then, he is placed in a special automobile, which delivers him to the train.
Both officers from FPS explained Kommersant that the place where Khodorkovsky and Lebedev would be doing their time will become known on Tuesday, when one relative chosen by each prisoners himself would receive a notification by mail from the head of the Matrosskaya Tishina Prison.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Belarusian and Polish posters
- Вымірыючыя гатункі? (Belarusian, 'Endangered species?')
- Д’ябал схаваны? (Belarusian, 'Devil in disguise')
- Арыштаваны за праўду (Belarusian, 'Locked up for truth')
- Zagrożone gatunki? (Polish, 'Endangered species?')
- Diabeł w przebraniu? (Polish, 'Devil in disguise')
- Zamknięty za prawdę (Polish, 'Locked up for truth')
Many thanks to Andrzej for his help.
Marinich's son calls for Day of Solidarity
“Today we need solidarity. The events of recent days oblige us to unite. It has become evident by the example of the arrest of Zubr coordinator, Mikita Sasim, and by the example of today’s trial of Anatol Lyabedzka. The number of political prisoners is to grow, and the regime is to step up repressions. The Belarusian society needs coming together, and I call upon everybody to take part in the Day of Solidarity on October 16,” said the son of the political prisoner Mikhail Marynich, a coordinator of the civil initiative “Freedom to political prisoners”, a member of the Council of Civil Initiatives ”Free Belarus” Pavel Marynich.
Representatives of civil society of Belarus have offered to announce October 16, 2005 a Day on of Solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners, disappeared oppositionists, their families, independent journalists, with everybody who fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus.
One of the Zubr coordinators Mikita Sasim, the head of the civil initiative “We Remember” Iryna Krasouskaya and a well-known journalist Iryna Khalip called upon the Belarusians to switch off the light in their apartments on October 16 at 8 p.m. and to light a candle by their windows in solidarity with the victims of political repressions.
The international walk for Belarus is actually being held the day before, since many people find it easier to participate on a Saturday. However, we would also encourage our readers to light a candle at 8 pm Minsk time on the 16th. (To see what time this will be in your city, check the World Clock.)
Zubr coordinator arrested for second time
Zubr coordinator Mikita Sasim is not granted freedom. Mikita Sasim was arrested on October 7 in Minsk for handing out leaflets with the call to take part in the Day of Solidarity on October 16. Today he has been sentenced to three days of arrest on a frame-up. As the three days of arrest have expired, he was released. After the trial he went to police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk, and there he was detained again. It’s impossible to communicate with him at the moment. According to preliminary information, Zubr coordinator would be escorted to the military enlistment office of the town of Baranavichy where he is registered.
Today the court of Tsentralny district of Minsk has sentenced the coordinator of Zubr movement Mikita Sasim to three days of imprisonment. The Zubr coordinator was arrested in Minsk on October 7 for handing out leaflets with the call to participate in the Day of Solidarity with victims of the regime on October 16. Since that time he was kept in a remand prison of Interior Affairs Department of Minsk city executive committee. The oppositionist allegedly used indecent language in a public place. Judge Alyaksei Bychko found Mikita Sasim guilty of violation of the Article 156 of Administrative Code (petty hooliganism). This situation reminds of the trial over Georgian activists of Kmara movement, Luka Tsuladze and Giorgi Kandelaki. They were accused of hooliganism and sentenced to 15 days of arrest for fear of possible contacts with Belarusian activists.
Policemen are capable of anything in order not to see Sasim at the streets of Minsk, including sending him to the army. As we have informed, recently Mikita Sasim signed out from a hospital, where he had spent a week with a brain injury caused by beating up by riot policemen.
Rice to stay away from Uzbekistan
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided no to visit Uzbekistan during her coming trip to the Central Asia.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Daniel Fried, quoted by RIA-Novosti news agency said it was a “wise decision not to go” to Uzbekistan.
The reason of this cancellation was that the United States is concerned over clashes in the Uzbek city of Andijan in May and over the current policy of the Uzbek authorities.
Prosecution claims Andijan protesters on drugs
A witness at the trial of 15 men charged with involvement in a May uprising in Uzbekistan said Friday that he saw militants carrying several syringes in government building seized by rebels.
The testimony by a building guard identified only by his last name, Boyboyev, echoed Uzbek state media claims that the suspected militants had been using drugs.
Rights groups say defendants' testimony in the carefully orchestrated trial was coerced through torture.
In St. Petersburg, Uzbek President Islam Karimov thanked President Vladimir Putin on Friday for supporting his country following the Andijan uprising and called for the countries' relations to be strengthened.
Karimov turned to Moscow for support after the United States and other Western nations publicly criticized Uzbekistan for the government suppression of the uprising and joined demands for an international investigation.
Russia, as well as China, responded with a strong show of support.
"The events in Andijan have show again who is who," Karimov said Friday in televised comments. "The time has come not only for a strategic partnership but for the relations of allies."
Another rally broken up in Baku
Police dispersed an unsanctioned opposition rally in the Azerbaijani capital Baku Sunday.
The rally was organized by the Azadlyg bloc including the Azerbaijani People's Front, the Democratic Party and the Musavat (Equality) party.
The opposition demanded the authorities to ensure free, just and democratic parliamentary elections due on November 6.
Some people were injured in clashed with the police.
Reuters AlertNet has more:
Police hauled away some protesters at the demonstration, being held without official permission, while others retreated holding handkerchiefs to bleeding heads.
"This blood will be on the conscience of the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev," Ali Kerimli, one of two leaders of the main opposition bloc in the Caspian Sea state, said.
The opposition said up to 30 people were seriously injured, including three journalists. "But all the same we will continue our peaceful actions," Kerimli told reporters.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
EU imposes sanctions on Uzbekistan
The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan, seeking to punish the Central Asian nation for its refusal to allow an international investigation into the bloody crackdown on an uprising in May in the northeastern city of Andijon.
The sanctions impose an embargo on exports to Uzbekistan of arms and equipment that might be used for internal repression, and suspend meetings between the union and Uzbekistan designed to accelerate the former Soviet state's rapprochement with the West. They will also forbid the travel of Uzbek officials directly involved in the crackdown to the 25 European Union states.
Uzbek Protestants under police surveillance
Andijan Protestant pastor Bakhtier Tuichiev has told Forum 18 News Service that, since the violent crushing of the Andijan uprising in May, he has – along with other local Protestants - been placed under NSS secret police surveillance, and has regularly been threatened with arrest if he does not shut down his unregistered Pentecostal church. Since the Andijan crackdown, Uzbekistan has increased attempts to isolate religious believers from the support of local and foreign journalists and human rights activists. For example, Tuichiev was told by police that "We are not going to let foreign human rights activists into Uzbekistan any more. It's payback time – we've already dealt with Igor Rotar and now we've come for you." Rotar, Forum 18's Central Asia correspondent, was deported from Uzbekistan, apparently as part of a wide crackdown on independent media and human rights activists. Repression and attempts to isolate religious communities – including the unconcealed censorship of international post - are continuing.
Narodnaya Volya shut down
Belarus's main opposition newspaper, Narodnaya volya, did not appear on the streets of Minsk on October 1. On September 20, its assets were seized by the Lenin district court in Minsk, and the printing house and factory responsible for distributing the newspaper annulled their agreements on the grounds that Narodnaya volya had published materials that contradict the laws of the Republic of Belarus, specifically the law "On the Press and other Mass Media." On September 28, the directors of Belsayuzdruk and Mingorsoyuzpechat (M. Padhainy and I.V. Dudich) issued separate resolutions canceling agreements with the newspaper, and on the same day, the Chyrvonaya Zorka (Red Star) publishing company followed suit, declaring that the newspaper had failed to pay off its outstanding debts (Narodnaya volya, September 29).
According to one of the paper's writers, the ruling regime became irritated with the newspaper at the time of the 2004 referendum on whether President Alexander Lukashenka could be eligible to run for a third term in office.
Edited by Iosif Syaredzich, Narodnaya volya is the most important socio-political newspaper of the opposition in Belarus. It sells approximately 150,000 copies per week, publishing on five days, and it runs articles in both Belarusian and Russian.
According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, state officials chose to annul the agreements between the services that printed and distributed the newspaper and Narodnaya volya. It described the actions as lawless and calculated to destroy the only independent newspaper at a time when the Congress of Democratic Forces was assembling at the Palace of Culture in the Minsk Automobile Factory to elect its candidate to oppose Lukashenka in the 2006 presidential election (Narodnaya volya, September 30). By preventing distribution of the newspaper at kiosks in Minsk, the authorities thus ensured minimal publicity about the Congress, which elected its single candidate on October 2.
Borys' brother fired
The brother a Polish minority leader in Belarus has been dismissed from work. Andzelika Borys, the democratically elected president of the organization of ethnic Poles, had been kicked out of her post under orders from the controversial Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko. Borys says she had received threats against herself and her family, believed to be coming from the Belarussian KGB.
EU threatens to downgrade Belarus trade status
The EU warned Belarus Monday it would withdraw preferential trade rates unless it reforms its labor rights rules.
Belarus has 14 months to make changes guaranteeing trade union independence or it will face paying an extra 3 percentage points in trade tariffs.
In a September 2004 report, the International Labor Organization said that Belarus had "seriously infringed" on the basic civil liberties of its independent trade union leaders and called for guaranteed freedom of action for unions that have suffered interference in their internal affairs.
Monday, October 03, 2005
12 days till Walk for Belarus
Uzbek activist speaks from mental hospital
A human rights worker arrested and held in an Uzbekistan psychiatric hospital has said authorities are trying to make her declare herself mentally ill.
Yelena Urlayeva was arrested a month ago for distributing leaflets bearing a political cartoon.
She is now confined in Republican Psychiatric Hospital Number Two on the edge of Tashkent.
Neither lawyers nor relatives are allowed to visit her. But a reporter seeking information in the hospital grounds saw her at a barred window.
Speaking rapidly for fear of being caught, Ms Urlayeva said she had been beaten because the authorities wanted her to declare herself mentally ill. She said she had refused.
They want to transfer her to another part of the hospital where she said there were many political prisoners. And she said that if she was caught talking to anyone she feared she would be beaten again.
After her arrest, Ms Urlayeva was sent for psychiatric tests, but was declared to be in good mental health. The state prosecutor's office then used its prerogative to send her to the more severe Hospital Number Two, for further psychiatric tests.
EU mulls doing something about Uzbekistan
The European Union is set to impose an arms embargo on Uzbekistan Monday and cut financial aid to punish the country for refusing to investigate last May's violent suppression of an uprising.
The EU foreign ministers, who will hold talks in Luxembourg, may also ban Uzbek officials from traveling to Western Europe, officials said.
Report on Georgian by-elections
Despite some irregularities, there is a compelling reason for stating that the October 1 parliamentary rerun
and by-elections were fair. On Election Day, the election administration showed a will to ensure the
implementation of voting procedures as prescribed by the law.
Nevertheless, we would like to point to those irregularities that accompanied the administration of October
Although the accuracy of voter lists was one of the pre-election period priorities, and some work was
undertaken to improve them, it must be noted that voter lists remained to be the main problem in October
The problems associated with voter lists can be divided in three categories:
Ø Dozens of voters were absent from voter lists in various election precincts. Thus, these citizens
could not exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Ø Voters who belonged to various election precincts were wrongly entered in the lists of different
Ø Voters were registered in the lists of an election precinct twice; other inconsistencies regarding the
voters’ data was also note in the voter lists.
Difficulties in the implementation of voting procedures were also prompted by the problems related to the
Election Code. The sporadic changes to the law have created a situation where the implementation of
various voting procedures is impossible; also, there are mutually exclusive definitions, as well as
ambiguous clauses, which allow for multiple interpretations. Therefore, it is clear that The Unified
Election Code of Georgia requires comprehensive amendments and refinement.
Yushchenko to investigate attack on journalist
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has ordered an investigation into an attack on the car of a journalist allegedly planning a photo expose on the president's teenage son.
Yushchenko today asked Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko to assume personal control of the probe into an incident Friday in which the journalist's car was damaged by a homemade fire bomb in the Ukrainian capital.
The press watchdog Reporters Without Borders cites Walid Harfouch, editor of the celebrity tabloid "Paparazzi," as saying he believes the attack was linked to his plans to publish vacation photographs of Yushchenko's son, Andriy, and his girlfriend.
Presidential spokeswoman Irina Gerashchenko denied the link, and said Yushchenko learned about the photographs only after the attack on Harfouch's car.
She said the president considers free speech an "immutable" principle.
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Apologies also for the infrequent updates, which have been caused partly by Blogger and partly by the maintainers' busyness with other events.