Plus, uncertainty ahead of Croatian president’s groundbreaking visit to Serbia, and Central Europe’s united front against EU meddling in nuclear power.by Ioana Caloianu, Ky Krauthamer, and Alexander Silady 15 October 2013
Police in Moscow detained about 1,200 workers 14 October in the aftermath of the previous day’s riot triggered by the fatal stabbing of an ethnic Russian, the BBC reports.
Police rounded up the workers at a vegetable warehouse in the south of Russia's capital in what they called a “preventative raid.” The market was targeted the previous day by rioters searching for migrants after a report that the killer was from the North Caucasus.
In a second raid, 450 migrant workers were detained at another market in the northeast of the city, Radio Free Europe reports.
The warehouse is being shut down for five days, and a consumer rights monitoring official in Moscow said inspections had revealed its conditions to be unsanitary, RIA Novosti reports.
When police acted against the riots on Sunday, some 380 demonstrators were arrested, but most were released without being charged this week. Seventy people are facing administrative charges. It was not known if the workers detained in yesterday’s raids will face any charges, RIA writes.
RFE recalls earlier incidents of large-scale protests against migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 2010, hundreds of nationalists rioted in Moscow after a North Caucasian man killed an ethnic Russian soccer fan.
A court in Azerbaijan has sentenced an Iranian national to 15 years for planning to attack the Israeli Embassy in Baku, Lebanon’s Daily Star reports. The Baku Grave Crimes Court also found Bahram Feyzi guilty of espionage and drug possession.
Feyzi was arrested in March along with nearly two-dozen others suspected of planning attacks against the embassies of the United States and Israel and other targets, the Jewish Telegraph Agency writes. The court also accused him of being an Iranian secret service agent. At least seven defendants have been sentenced in connection with the investigation.
An Iranian Embassy official in Baku said Feyzi’s conviction was unfounded.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran have grown increasingly tense in the past few years, due to religious issues, the status of Iran’s large Azeri minority, and divergent foreign policy approaches including Azerbaijan’s closer ties to Israel and the United States.
In 2012, Azerbaijani authorities unveiled an Islamic terrorism plot allegedly directed against last spring’s Eurovision song contest held in Baku.
Croatia will go ahead with its genocide suit against Serbia at the International Court of Justice, Macedonia’s MIA news agency reports, citing Croatian media.
Josipovic recently said the suit and the counter-suit brought by Serbia at the UN tribunal were not crucial for bilateral relations.
“It is up to the governments to deliver a decision on that,” he told the Belgrade daily Politika, according to inSerbia. “This requires both motive and courage. The important factor is also how the public would react to a dropping of the lawsuits, or to some conditions that would have to be met for that to happen. But I do not think that these lawsuits are crucial for our relations.”
Earlier this year Croatian and Serbian officials mentioned the possibility of a joint withdrawal of the cases. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pusic, at the time the highest-ranking Croatian official to visit Serbia, said the two sides had made “some important steps which open space for talks on withdrawing the genocide lawsuits," AFP reported.
The fate of about 1,700 Croatians who went missing during fighting against Serb forces backed by Belgrade in the early 1990s formed the basis of the suit Croatia filed in 1999. Serbia’s counter-suit in 2010 charged Zagreb with complicity in the mass expulsions of ethnic Serbs from Serb-held Croatian territory in 1995.
Central European leaders put up a united front against what they claim is the EU’s over-regulation of nuclear power at a regional summit 14 October.
"We expect the European Union to help rather than hinder the increase of nuclear capacity in Central Europe," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after the meeting of the Visegrad Four countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), Reuters reports.
Orban’s Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, said he welcomed the countries’ joint strategy on nuclear power.
Undergirding the debate over nuclear power is a split within Europe on whether or not to use it, Reuters notes, and remarks from the Central European leaders hinted at resistance to the anti-nuclear camp.
"We cannot imagine the [European Commission] accepting major powers in the sphere of nuclear safety. This is part of national sovereignty and it belongs to relevant international institutions," the Czech Press Agency CTK quotes Fico as saying.
The head of the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety, Dana Drabova, said the commission’s proposal was premature, CTK reports.
Three of the Visegrad Four countries plan to expand their existing nuclear power stations, while Poland intends to build its first nuclear plant by 2023, Reuters writes.
“The purpose of this laboratory is to study viruses in Russia and the South Caucasus, and to develop biological agents that could be used to destabilize Russia's economic and political situation," Onishchenko said 14 October.
According to the government-funded Voice of Russia, Onishchenko believes the operation of the U.S.-funded lab on Georgian territory puts Washington in the position of violating the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. He said Georgian authorities were “not in control” of the facility in Tbilisi, formally called the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health after the Republican senator from Indiana who lost his seat last year after 36 years in office.
In May the Georgian government transferred the center’s assets to the National Center of Disease Control and Public Health, Tabula magazine reports. The United States has invested $150 million into the center for research into infectious diseases and epidemiology since it opened in 2011, Tabula writes.
While acknowledging that U.S. military personnel work there, the Lugar Center’s website denies claims that it conducts bio-weapons research.