Belarus and Uzbekistan update
3rd May 2006

1. West is “counterproductive” on Belarus, says Russian Foreign Minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the West that Russia cannot agree with or support its isolation of Alexander Lukashenko. Meanwhile, Putin and Lukashenko have met yet again. A Russian opposition politician would prefer them to see each other during walks around the prison in the Hague....

2. Milinkievich jailed

Last month’s main opposition presidential candidate Alexander Milinkievich has been jailed for 15 days for organising an unauthorised demonstration.

3. Opposition rally takes place on Chernobyl anniversary

The regular Chernobyl anniversary rally by the opposition took place on 26th April, with numerous arrests by the authorities, including that of Milinkievich himself.

4. Pollster questions size of Lukashenko’s victory

A polling station outlawed in Belarus has said that Alexander Lukashenko probably only received about 63% of the vote on 19th March, though the Central Election Commission awarded him 83%. It says the appetite for change is probably being underestimated by the authorities and overestimated by the opposition, with the main source of discontent being the rising percentage of the population adversely affected by government crackdowns.

5. Press crackdown continues

6. Belarus boosts ties with Iran, equips itself with missile system from Russia, attracts Chinese investment, strengthens ties with Cuba

Numerous examples of the enhanced cooperation between human rights abusers.

7. Deputy Foreign Minister visits Germany to commemorate Belarusian WW2 dead

In what seems to be a violation of the EU travel ban on members of the Belarusian government, the Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister took part in a world war two commemoration ceremony in Germany.

A list of political prisoners taken in the immediate aftermath of the Belarusian election is now available at

3rd May 2006

1. Eight Uzbeks jailed for illegal religious activity

The suspects’ confessions were apparently obtained under torture.

2. UNHCR leaves Uzbekistan

3. Torture still used in Uzbekistan: and Germany should have detained Uzbek Interior Minister

The UN rapporteur on torture has said that use of torture is still widespread in Uzbekistan and that Germany should have detained the Uzbek Interior Minister when he visited Germany for health treatment recently. Firstly, German law on crimes against humanity allows it the country to detain people suspected of having committed the crime outside the country. Secondly, it is within Germany’s duty as a signatory to the UN Convention on Torture.

4. Uzbek president complains of information war by the West

According to President Karimov, the decision by the World Bank to stop lending money to Uzbekistan is part of an orchestrated campaign to meddle in Uzbekistan’s affairs under the guise of promoting democracy, saying that the West had been fooled into thinking that those who died in Andijon were protesting economic conditions, whereas in fact they were terrorists and bandits.

An interesting insight into how a tyrant’s mind works, if nothing else.

Russia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan

3rd May 2006

1. Press freedom in former Soviet Union under assault

Freedom House’s study "Freedom of the Press 2006: A Global Survey of Media Independence," has noted a long-term pattern of decline in the Former Soviet Union, with Russia very much in reverse gear. This concurs with a similar study a few months ago by IREX.