Plus, a Tajikistani opposition alliance names its presidential candidate and Chechnya tries to defuse talk of a refugee exodus to Germany.by Ioana Caloianu and Ky Krauthamer 11 September 2013
Pyanzin and a Chechen man, Adam Osmayev, were arrested in Ukraine in February 2012 after a bomb explosion in an Odessa apartment in which a third man was killed.
Pyanzin was extradited to Russia, although Osmayev, the alleged mastermind of the plot, is still in detention in Ukraine, after his extradition was halted by the European Court of Human Rights, Radio Free Europe reports.
Pyanzin’s trial began 6 September. He confessed that he, Osmayev, and the dead man, Ruslan Madayev, had acted on instructions from a terrorist group and that they planned to bomb Putin’s motorcade, according to UPI. He also reportedly gave details about a 2007 assassination plot targeting Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Two opposition parties in Tajikistan have formed an unlikely alliance and named their presidential candidate.
URFT, comprising the Islamic Rebirth and Social Democratic parties, apparently got serious about fielding a joint candidate after parliament agreed on the November date a week ago. At one point Social Democratic leader Rahmatillo Zoirov was considered a front runner to head the coalition ticket, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting wrote 3 September, prior to the selection of Bobonazarova.
Bobonazarova, a lawyer and human rights advocate, told IWPR this election feels different from past exercises when Rahmon trampled the opposition.
“It used to be that democratic forces, technical people, academics, and public figures would sit in some kitchen somewhere and quietly say they supported [the opposition], but that would never get said anywhere official. But now, I think this is going to be the first step toward a civil society, and reforms, regardless of the [election] outcome,” she said.
The URFT alliance “would combine the IRP’s membership numbers – easily the largest of any opposition group – with the Social Democrats’ secular profile, which might attract voters who would otherwise be uncomfortable choosing a party with Islam in its name,” IWPR wrote.
If elected, Bobonazarova said she would stay in office only long enough to initiate political reforms. Islamic Rebirth leader Hikmatullo Saifulozoda said such reforms could include a two-term presidential term limit and shortening the mandate from five years to four, as well as transferring some presidential powers to other branches of government.
The lawmaker is the second socially conservative deputy to leave the ruling party in the past two months in what TOL’s Martin Ehl calls a sign of the growing strength of the conservative opposition. Bloomberg writes that Civic Platform has to rely on independents and members of the liberal opposition Palikot party for votes.
Gowin said he would make an announcement about his political plans “in a week or two,” according to Polish Radio. Several former members of Civic Platform and the conservative opposition Law and Justice party have talked about joining forces with him.
“Gowin’s departure brings a new quality to Polish politics,” said European Parliament member Pawel Kowal, a former Law and Justice lawmaker in the Polish parliament. Civic Platform’s parliamentary club leader, Rafal Grupinski, said Gowin’s departure “clears the air’ in the ruling party, although fellow party member Andrzej Halicki took it as a bad sign given Gowin’s recent failed attempt to to oust Prime Minister Donald Tusk as party leader.
“It is not a good sign if the candidate for [the party] leadership quits,” Halicki said.
Tusk admitted that the narrow majority in parliament means the party now “cannot afford to make any mistakes.” He also dismissed talk of holding early elections.
U.S. personnel could begin work on a missile interceptor base in Romania as early as next week, Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa says.
Dusa made the announcement during a visit earlier this week to Deveselu air base, site of the missile facility.
Bucharest and Washington agreed terms in 2011 for a U.S.-operated facility at Deveselu, in southern Romania. SM-3 ballistic missiles are to be deployed as a defensive shield against the threat of missiles launched from the Middle East, Xinhua reports.
U.S. officials began planning to base interceptor missiles in Romania and Poland during the administration of George W. Bush. The “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations declared by Barack Obama early in his first term saw the program scaled back. In March, the Pentagon said it planned to install missiles in Romania by 2015 and Poland by 2018.
The missiles will be supplied by U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin. A company manager said installation of the Aegis missiles could begin in 2014.
Reacting to a rise in asylum claims by Russian citizens in Germany, the Chechen government says press reports of 10,000 asylum requests by Chechens this year are “probably” untrue.
The head of Chechnya’s External Relations Department, Isa Khadzhimuradov, made the statement 30 August. Through contacts with Chechens living in Germany, he said he learned that many asylum claimants try to pass themselves off as Chechens by learning a few words of Chechen and a few facts about the republic.
“We declare that among these 10,000 migrants in Germany are many that have no relation to the Chechen Republic or its people,” Khadzhimuradov said.
Two days previously, Germany’s Spiegel Online wrote, “In the first seven months of this year, more than 10,000 Chechens applied for asylum with German government offices, almost three times as many as in all of 2012.”
Similar figures appeared earlier in investigative stories by two major German newspapers, Radio Free Europe notes.
Die Welt quoted unnamed German officials as saying that the large majority of the 2,000 Russian citizens who requested asylum in April alone were Chechens. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited an estimate by security officials that Chechens made up almost 90 percent of about 10,000 asylum claims by Russian citizens in the first half of 2013. Just 3,200 Russians asked for asylum in Germany in all of 2012.
Officially, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees does not break down Russian asylum claims by ethnicity or nationality. Of 52,754 asylum claims in the first seven months of this year, 11,564 were made by Russian citizens – more than from Syria and Afghanistan combined, according to official statistics.
The reasons for the spike in Russian asylum seekers are less clear. Radio Free Europe and German press reports mention a rumor spreading through Chechnya that Germany was ready to take in 40,000 Chechens.
RFE also notes that Russians can reach Germany more easily since Belarus loosened controls on its border with Poland, writing that Belarusian border guards allow Russian passport holders into Poland even if they lack a Polish visa. Once in the Schengen area, they can travel freely throughout most of the EU. Many head for Germany, the destination of choice for many irregular migrants, even though only 8 percent will be given official permission to remain, Spiegel Online writes.