TODAY: Escalation of ethnic unrest in Kyrgyzstan prompts government to seek Russian help; Kremlin sends paratroopers; Kazakhstan concerns about politics of customs union; missile sales to Iran to stay on ice. Trifonova death cause established; polio returns to Russia for first time in decade; Yabloko FSB rally dispersed. Robin Hood gang members killed after siege; Gen Plan hits Moscow
In the wake of growing unrest which has seen scores of people killed, the Kyrgyz provisional government has appealed to Russia for its help in quelling confrontations and restoring order. According to the New York Times, it is thought that Russia will decide today on a response in discussion with other members of the CSTO. The BBC reports that Russia may be loath to intervene in what it describes as an ‘internal conflict’. Apparently as many as 650 paratroopers may have been sent to safeguard Russia’s military facilities in the restive country. The Russian Emergencies Ministry has sent an Il-76 transport plane to transport injured citizens on the orders of President Dmitry Medvedev. RFE/RL has a video report on the escalating tensions.
The Telegraph reports that Kazakhstan’s opposition leader Bulat Abilov is concerned that a customs union with Russia could become a political reincarnation of the Soviet Union. Who is it that believes that the destruction of statues of Stalin is a ‘silly anti-historical act, which is like expecting you can annul the past’? At his Friday meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin apparently pledged that Moscow would continue to put missile sales to Iran on hold. The Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has apparently asserted that the decision is a matter of political will, as opposed to obligation. The list of armaments which will be prohibited for sale to Iran will be published in the next presidential decree. The Washington Post suggests that Medvedev’s assertion that any country under UN sanctions will not be allowed to join the SCO is a further snub to Tehran. Simon Shuster in Time examines the NATO/Russia conflict over heroin production.
Prosecutors have established that real estate agent Vera Trifonova died during pre-trial detention from a pulmonary embolism caused by a catheter that had been left in her thigh. The Duma has voted for a bill permitting the FSB to issue warnings to individuals of the ‘impermissibility of their actions’; the controversial bill has been greatly opposed by champions of free speech. A Yabloko rally against the growing powers of the FSB has been dispersed with four arrests. Russia has confirmed its first death from polio in more than a decade.
A five-hour siege held by members of the ‘Russian Rambos‘ gang has ended with the deaths of two gunmen. The gang’s anti-law enforcement vendetta is, RFE/RL reports, suspected to have been precipitated by members’ alleged abuse at the hands of the police. Yesterday Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s much-debated General Plan officially came into action. The Guardian sees trouble ahead for the septagenarian politician.
PHOTO: Ethnic Uzbeks gather near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in southern Kyrgyzstan. (D Dalton Bennett/AP)