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Turkmen Report: September 23, 2001


23 September 2001
NATIONAL NEWS
U.S. Citizens Urged Not To Visit Turkmenistan, U.S. Diplomats Not Going To Leave Ashgabat


21 September 2001

The U.S. State Department issued a statement recommending that U.S. citizens "avoid visiting Turkmenistan, which has common borders with Afghanistan," and authorized "non-essential personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat and members of diplomats' families" to leave the country. There have been no significant changes in the embassy's work, officials of the U.S. embassy in Turkmenistan told journalists on 20 September.

The document also says that the Turkmen government undertook measures for strengthening security in the state. However, the recent acts of terror in the U.S. and the close location of Turkmenistan to Afghanistan cause additional concern on the security of U.S. citizens in this region.

The statement says the U.S. State Department has received no information about threats to Turkmenistan, and issued this document because of general security concerns.

The press release also says that none of the U.S. diplomatic mission employees is leaving Ashgabat.

The U.S. embassy said that there were no plans to introduce any restrictions on Turkmen citizens visiting the U.S. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Reuters, AFP GazetaSNG.ru, Turkmenistan.ru)

Russian Official Calls For Precise, Lawful U.S. Anti-Terrorist Actions


21 September 2001

Vladimir Rushailo, the secretary of Russia�s presidential Security Council, who is touring the Central Asian countries for consultations with their leaders on possible anti-terrorist actions, met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 21 September. Turkmenistan and Russia have agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism. The talks mostly concerned problems of the Central Asian region, particularly in connection with possible U.S. military action. Rushailo said that any U.S. anti-terrorist operation should be "precise and in the framework of international law."

The senior Russian official said in Ashgabat that the U.S. should make sure any strike on suspected terrorist bases in Afghanistan doesn�t harm innocent civilians and must first be approved by the United Nations.

Russian and the Central Asian states have been concerned about possible fallout from any U.S. operations against terrorist groups and their supporters. (RFE/RL, AP, Interfax, AFP, GazetaSNG.ru)

Initialing Of Caspian Agreement Put Off


21 September 2001

The fifth session of a special working group on development of a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea was wrapped up in Astana on 20 September. The deputy foreign ministers of the five Caspian nations have decided to put off initialing a draft agreement on the sea's status, Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister Nurtai Abykaev told a briefing on 21 September following the signing of a communique.

The draft is to be initialed at the next meeting, which will probably be held in Moscow in December.

If, however, a summit of the Caspian states does take place in Turkmenistan before December, the draft will be considered at a meeting of experts prior to that summit, Abykaev said.

The positions of the countries have moved closer together, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny told the briefing. Work on the final document has reached its final stage, he said. "We want the document to recognize the interests of all the countries," he said. (Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazpravda)

Peace Corps Temporarily Stops Its Activity In Turkmenistan


21 September 2001

The U.S. Peace Corps has temporarily stopped work in Turkmenistan, though it will not close any of its programs there, CNA was informed by sources close to the U.S. embassy.

According to the source, about a hundred Peace Corps volunteers, who work in various regions of the country, including some bordering Afghanistan, plan to leave Turkmenistan shortly. The Peace Corps works in Turkmenistan in three areas: teaching English, making studies on management and business, and also assistance in the field of public health services. Employees of the organization's central office in Ashgabat will stay and continue their work. (GazetaSNG.ru citing CNA)

Turkmenistan Rules Out Support For Strikes Against Afghanistan


19 September 2001

Turkmenistan said on 19 September it has no plans to allow the U.S. and its allies to use Turkmen territory or air space for strikes against Afghanistan.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Turkmenistan has not yet received any official inquiries of appeals from other countries to let its territory be used for combating international terrorism.

The ministry said Turkmenistan is officially neutral, and this rules out any involvement in military actions.

But the ministry said that Turkmenistan would support the creation of an "anti-terrorist coalition," provided that it acted under UN auspices. (RFE/RL, Reuters, Interfax)

German Doctor Examines Turkmen President


19 September 2001

German heart surgeon Hans Meissner carried out a scheduled medical examination of President Saparmurat Niyazov, a source on the president's staff told CNA.

According to the German cardiologist, he has advised Niyazov "to have more rest, work less, avoid stressful situations, which, unfortunately, is unreal." The doctor said that the "cardiovascular system and all important organs of Niyazov are functioning normally." In September 1997 the German doctor performed heart surgery on the Turkmen president in a Munich cardiology center. Meissner examines the Turkmen leader several times a year. (GazetaSNG.ru citing CAN, Turkmen TV, Interfax)

Turkmen Students In U.S. Safe, Newspaper Says


18 September 2001

The group of 44 young Turkmens who were sent to all states of America as part of the ACCELS (American Council for Cooperation in Education and Language Studying) program, as well as the other students and teachers from Turkmenistan, are in no danger.

The director of ACCELS in Turkmenistan, Brendan Dallas, said that the situation is calm in all the U.S. states where the Turkmen children currently are residing, including Virginia and Maryland, the areas closest to Washington. Schools did not disrupt their work and pupils are receiving educational sessions according to schedule. The ACCELS office staff in Washington confirmed this, too. ("Neitralny Turkmenistan")

Niyazov: Conclusions Must Be Drawn From Suicide Attacks In U.S.


17 September 2001

Turkmen President Niyazov visited the eastern Lebap region on 17 September, where he participated in the inauguration of the Seydi-500 power substation.

In remarks at a meeting with elders of the region broadcast by national TV the same day, the president said: "There is tension in the region. You can see from TV how much suffering the explosions in America have caused people. They [terrorists] are being prosecuted by law. Turkmenistan has expressed condolences to the U.S. government on this. Muslims and other people may suffer misfortune [as a result]. Let such things not happen. Those responsible will be found and punished. We express our concern, which is based on our neutral policy, via the UN on this matter. Tensions are rising in the region and God willing it [the crisis] will be resolved by peaceful means without any problems." (Turkmen TV)

Central Asian Countries To Discuss Ways Of Combating Drug Trafficking


16 September 2001

The third annual conference of the signatories to the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding on Cooperation in Combating Drug Trafficking in Central Asia is to be held in Dushanbe on 17 and 18 September.

The forum will bring together representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United Nations, the Aga-Khan Fund, and the Tajik Agency for Control over Drug Trafficking.

The participants of the conference will evaluate the results of regional cooperation in combating drug trafficking and drug addiction in Central Asia, and discuss additions to the regional program of action. (Interfax)

Ashgabat: Struggle Against Terrorism Should Be Carried Out Under Aegis Of UN


15 September 2001

The Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 14 September, which said:

"People in Turkmenistan with great sorrow have perceived messages on tragic events in the United States of America, they feel and express sincere condolence to the relatives of the victims. The committed acts of terror have received harsh condemnation in our country.

In connection with the occurred events the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan is authorized on behalf of the president of Turkmenistan and the government of the country to declare support for the creation of an international anti-terrorist coalition. As a state whose neutral status is recognized by the world community on behalf of the United Nations organization, Turkmenistan considers expedient to form such coalition as a permanent body at the United Nations and carrying out the activity under its aegis, with precisely defined purposes, tasks, functions, authorities and function mechanisms. Its existence at the United Nations in close coordination with all states and international organizations will determine the creation of such kind of system, that could notice terrorist occurrence in every place of the world and help taking effective measures in the struggle against it." (Turkmenistan.ru, GazetaSNG.ru)

NEWS FROM THE NEIGHBORS
AFGHANISTAN
Opposition Claims Gains In Fighting


21 September 2001

There are reports of fierce fighting between Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance in the north of the country.

Soleh Muhammad Registani, the Alliance's military attache in Tajikistan, said the aim of the offensive is to seize the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. He confirmed that forces under General Rashid Dostum, a military leader of the country�s Uzbek minority, have joined in.

In Washington earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in a TV interview that the UN-recognized Alliance could be "a lot of help" against the Taliban.

On 20 September Alliance spokesman Yunus Kanuni told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service the U.S. has his government's support for any action against the Taliban for refusing to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

"The public opinion in Afghanistan supports this international decision to fight against terrorism and strike against targets in Afghanistan. We are the legal government of Afghanistan and will support [such action] until the international force ends terrorism in Afghanistan and in the world. Of course we have a lot of things to offer: we know the area; we have part of Afghanistan under control; we have fighting experience."

The Taliban said on 21 September it would not hand over bin Laden without evidence he was involved in last week's attacks on the U.S. (RFE/RL Turkmen Service, AFP, Reuters)

Taliban End Offensive, Strengthen Defense


17 September 2001

The Taliban forces have ended all offensive operations and are strengthening their positions, a Northern Alliance source told Interfax on 17 September. They have placed their air force and air defense units on high alert and are moving armor and ammunition to the front line.

Taliban attack and transport planes and significant air defense units are based in the airstrips in Qonduz and Mazar-i-Sharif, 100 and 150 kilometers, respectively, from the Tajik-Afghan border. (Interfax)

TAJIKISTAN
Dushanbe Ready To Cooperate With Any Country In Resisting Terrorism


18 September 2001

Tajikistan is open for cooperation with any country, including the United States, in combating terrorism, Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov told the press in Dushanbe on 18 September.

He said Tajikistan has not received any requests to allow the use of its territory for striking international terrorists in Afghanistan.

"The assassination of Ahmad Shakh Masood and terrorist attacks in the United States are closely related," Nazarov said. (Interfax)

President Expresses Condolences To Afghan Leadership Over Death Of Masood


16 September 2001

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov has sent Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani a telegram conveying his condolences over the death of Northern Alliance forces commander Ahmad Shakh Masood.

"Ahmad Shakh Masood devoted all his life to selfless service to his Motherland and to the struggle for Afghanistan�s real independence and the establishment of a state system that would meet the interests of all groups of Afghan citizens," Rakhmonov wrote. "He was respected not only in his native country, but also far beyond the Islamic State of Afghanistan as a true national hero and patriot," the Tajik president said.

The telegram also says that "the death of Ahmad Shakh Masood, caused by mercenary terrorists, is an irrecoverable loss for the fraternal Afghan people and for all friends of Afghanistan," the Tajik presidential press service told Interfax on 16 September. (Interfax)

KAZAKHSTAN
Astana Prepared To Cooperate With U.S., World Community In Combating Terrorism


18 September 2001

President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on 16 September that Kazakhstan would support all anti-terrorist measures taken by the international community, primarily by the United States.

He said Kazakhstan would back action against terrorist centers in Afghanistan despite the fact that the situation in that country directly affects Central Asia.

"Afghanistan is situated close to us and we feel [its closeness], undoubtedly," the president told reporters in Almaty. "However, this doesn't mean that because of this we will in any way renounce our position, our line, and will take another position, when it is the duty of the entire world today to combat terrorism."

But "it is not only Afghanistan that is on the agenda -- there are terrorist centers, camps, in many states," Nazarbaev said. Terrorist attacks are possible anywhere, and terrorist leaders "are saying they can [perpetrate them] everywhere," he said.

Kazakhstan is prepared for "the strongest possible cooperation with the U.S. and the world community in combating international terrorism," Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov said in Almaty on 18 September, following President Nursultan Nazarbaev's talks with Russian Security Council chief Vladimir Rushailo. Rushailo told the press that the situation in Central Asia, "already alarming," has deteriorated after the terrorist acts in the U.S. This fact undoubtedly arouses Russian President Vladimir Putin's concern, he said. (Interfax-Kazakhstan)

UZBEKISTAN
Uzbek Extremist Joins Taliban Command In Northern Afghanistan


18 September 2001

One of the leaders of Uzbekistan's Islamic movement, Djuma Namangani, has been made a commander of a Taliban military unit in northern Afghanistan, according to a report obtained by Interfax from an Afghan military source on 18 September.

The report quotes a Taliban government ruling as saying that Namangani has been appointed a commander of a 9,000-man unit in Talukan, the administrative center of the northern Afghan province of Takhor, 60 kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border.

The source said the Talukan group includes Taliban troops, mercenaries from Pakistan and Arab countries, Uzbek extremists, and Chechen militants.

Namangani has already been declared a state criminal and international terrorist in Uzbekistan. In July this year, he and international terrorist Osama bin Laden were authorized by the Taliban government to coordinate mercenary and Taliban efforts. (Interfax)

RUSSIA
Moscow Denounces Killing Of Afghan Military Leader


17 September 2001

The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the act of terror that killed eminent Afghan military and political figure, who was also the country's vice president and defense minister, Akhmad Shakh Masood.

A ministry report obtained by Interfax on 17 September said, "The way this treacherous act of terror was perpetrated proves that it is yet another link in the chain of crimes of international terrorism carried out in various parts of the world, Russia and the U.S. included."

The report says the actual reason for eliminating Masood was "the obvious inability of the Taliban [controlling the bulk of Afghanistan] and its foreign backers to prevail in the protracted armed struggle against the Masood-led United Front."

"The multinational anti-Taliban coalition is closing its ranks, declaring its firm resolve to continue the uncompromising battle against Afghanistan's enemies at home and abroad and uproot the bastion of world terrorism built with help from the Taliban," the report said.

Russia "is ready to further constructively interact with the international community under UN leadership toward forming a global anti-terror front."

"The latest events in and outside Afghanistan have proved that the anti-terror sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on the Taliban are timely and necessary," the report says. (Interfax)

AZERBAIJAN
Response To Terrorist Acts In U.S. Should Be Made 'After Organizers Are Tracked Down'


16 September 2001

Measures against the forces that have carried out the terrorist acts in Washington and New York "must be taken after those who organized them have been tracked down," Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev told Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Lord Russell-Johnston on 15 September.

He backed U.S. President George W. Bush�s statement on the necessity of launching counterstrikes against terrorist bases. He also supported Russell-Johnston's remark that terror cannot be used to combat terror. Moreover, when the nationality of the terrorists is established, no response measures should be launched against the entire nation or religion as a whole. Decisions made in haste are "sometimes erroneous." "Decisions made over the course of time are fairer," said Aliev.

Asked about Azerbaijan's preparedness to take special measures in connection with the terrorist acts in the U.S., Aliyev told Russell-Johnston that Azerbaijan is ready to take all the necessary measures, including checks on citizens. (Interfax)

FEATURES AND ANALYSIS
Central Asian States Reject Participation in Possible War On Afghanistan


21 September 2001

By Jean-Christophe Peuch

Efforts by the United States to garner international support against Afghanistan suffered an apparent blow when the Central Asian states of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan earlier this week (19 September) officially stated that they were not considering allowing the U.S. or its allies to use their respective territories for possible strikes against their southern neighbor.

Washington is calling for a united front against terrorism in the aftermath of last week�s devastating attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. President George W. Bush�s administration has made it clear that any military action will be focused on Afghanistan and its ruling Taliban militia, which it says is sheltering Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born Islamic militant and the prime suspect in the attacks.

U.S. officials have said that Afghanistan�s predominantly Muslim northern neighbors could play a major role in concerted military operations against the Taliban and bin Laden's alleged Taliban-sponsored training camps in Afghanistan. Both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- which has the largest and best-trained armed forces in the region -- still have military facilities that the Soviet Army built in the late 1970s prior to invading Afghanistan.

Yet, Uzbek Foreign Ministry spokesman Bakhodir Umarov said on 19 September that his country had neither considered nor discussed the possibility of letting its territory or air space be used by the U.S. or its allies for strikes on Afghanistan. Foreign Ministry officials in neighboring Tajikistan made similar comments, saying that the possibility of letting U.S. military aircraft use the national territory for possible strikes against Afghanistan had never been looked into.

Not surprisingly, these statements followed a rush Central Asian tour made earlier this week by Russia's Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo. Although the Kremlin supports U.S. calls for global action against international terrorism, it has expressed concerns that Washington could use the opportunity of military actions against the Taliban to increase its presence in a region Russia considers its backyard.

All Central Asian states are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and most regional armies are being trained by U.S. officers.

Of all Afghanistan�s immediate neighbors, only Tajikistan is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty. It is also the only regional country where Russia keeps a significant military presence, notably along the border with Afghanistan.

By contrast, Uzbekistan has been cultivating warm relations with the U.S. since it gained independence 10 years ago in a bid to counterbalance Russia's influence in the region.

Olivier Roy is an Afghan and Central Asian expert at France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Roy told RFE/RL that, in his view, Uzbekistan would benefit from its participation in a U.S.-led military coalition against the Taliban and bin Laden. But he made it clear that Uzbek President Islam Karimov had little room to maneuver:

"Objectively, it is in Uzbekistan's interest to participate in a coalition, notably because -- with the exception of the Islamic circles, of course -- its sympathies lie with the U.S. While Uzbekistan's relations with Israel are excellent, the Arabs have almost no influence in the country. To participate in such a coalition would allow Uzbekistan to boost its ties with Washington while avoiding criticism on human rights and counterbalancing the influence of the Russians. Although the Uzbeks have moved closer to Russia recently, they remain very, very wary of [this country]. But the Uzbek leadership is overcautious and it is certainly not willing to appear on the front line. Therefore, one can imagine that the Uzbeks will provide all facilities required by the Americans while refraining from going too far like, for example, providing troops. This they will not do."

Some experts have suggested that Karimov could trade his support to U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan against America's help in quelling fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), who have been responsible for several armed incursions into the country's southern provinces over the past few years. Human rights activists have expressed concerns that the authoritarian Uzbek leader would use the opportunity of a global war on terrorism to clamp down on all forms of political and religious dissent.

In the mid-1990s, IMU militants fled Uzbekistan to find refuge in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Although IMU leaders have admitted that there was a connection between their movement and the Taliban, the true nature of their relations with Afghanistan�s rulers and bin Laden have raised many questions.

Addressing the U.S. Congress earlier today, Bush singled out the IMU and its military leader, Djuma Namangani, among alleged terrorist groups affiliated with bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization.

Roy notes that links between the Taliban and the IMU have become much closer in the recent past, with Uzbek militants helping the Afghan religious militia fighting late Ahmad Shakh Masood's Northern Alliance:

"There have been a number of precise clues over the past year. Last June, for the first time, IMU fighters launched an attack against Masood in cooperation with the Taliban. Up until that date, they had refrained from fighting in Afghanistan, saying that this was not their war. This period is over now. In addition, Namangani is believed to have become a member of Al-Qaeda. Of course, one has to be very careful with this kind of rumors. Yet, it is clear that links [between the IMU and the Taliban] are very close."

But some specialists disagree with the idea that Karimov might be willing to negotiate his support to a U.S. military action for domestic purposes.

Ethnic Uzbek journalist Sanobar Shermatova specializes in Central Asian and Caucasian affairs for the Russian "Moskovskie novosti" weekly. In an interview with RFE/RL, she said the Uzbek leader is unlikely to agree to his country's direct involvement in a military action against the Taliban for fears of political backlash:

"Whether Uzbekistan will participate [in a U.S.-led coalition] or not, the IMU problem will remain. Why? Because the IMU problem is not a mere question of fighting against terrorism. It is much broader. It is a political problem, a social problem [that cannot] be solved by simply letting Uzbekistan participate in a U.S. operation in Afghanistan. Moreover, for Uzbekistan this would amount to declaring itself a U.S. ally in Central Asia and becoming the primary target of those religious groups that will remain in the region after the war. This would put the country under great danger, and I think that the position adopted by [Karimov] -- that is, to support the U.S. fight against terrorists while refraining from siding with the U.S. in this war -- matches Uzbekistan's long-term interests."

Although Russia has always denied helping the IMU, its troops stationed in Tajikistan have kept a benevolent attitude toward Karimov's religious opponents, letting IMU militants freely come and go through the Tajik-Afghan border. But relations between Moscow and Tashkent have changed since Uzbekistan earlier this year joined an economic forum known as the "Shanghai Five" that originally grouped together Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Roy says Moscow is likely to adopt a more cautious stance toward the IMU now.

"The Russians eventually got what they wanted, that is to force Tashkent back to the fold. Therefore, it is not in their interest to retain an ambiguous attitude now because that would convince the Uzbeks that Moscow is a danger to them. I believe that the Russians got what they wanted when Tashkent joined the Shanghai Five group. It is in their interest to keep some means of pressure on Karimov, but not to destabilize him. That would be too great a risk for them."

Another Central Asian country had denied it would participate in any anti-Taliban coalition. In a statement released on 19 September through its Foreign Ministry, Turkmenistan brushed aside any such scenario, saying that it would run counter to its neutral status.

Of all the regional states, only Turkmenistan openly maintains good relations with the Taliban, although it has not recognized the militia as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

As Shermatova recalls, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov is anxious to avoid any confrontation with the Taliban regime. Six years ago, she said, Ashgabat and Afghanistan's rulers signed an agreement under which the Taliban said they would refrain from any subversive action against its northwestern neighbor:

"Every country has two options [when it comes to national defense.] The first option is to protect itself militarily and the second option is to sign non-aggression pacts with its neighbors. Turkmenistan has opted for the second solution because it has neither the resources nor the money required to keep an army. Turkmenistan is governed by its own oriental laws, according to which [Niyazov] has decided that his country would not assist the U.S. in a war against the Taliban."

Plans to build a gas pipeline stretching from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan was shelved after U.S. oil company Unocal withdrew from the project four years ago following a shift in Washington's policy towards the Taliban.

Niyazov is now considering alternative routes through Russia and Iran. But Roy believes that the Central Asian leader still views Afghanistan as a potential outlet for his country's huge hydrocarbon reserves. Roy also notes that ethnic Turkmen living in Afghanistan have often had good relations with the country's majority Pushtun ethnic group from which the Taliban originates. These factors, he says, have contributed to Turkmenistan's pro-Taliban stance.

Roy concludes: "Niyazov could have many surprises in store. He will not confront the U.S., but one has to keep in mind that Turkmenistan and the Taliban have very close interests which have nothing to do with ideology." (RFE/RL)

LISTENERS' CORNER
Statement Of The United Opposition Of Turkmenistan In Connection With U.S. Antiterrorist Plans In Afghanistan


21 September 2001

The United Opposition of Turkmenistan expresses solidarity with the American people and the U.S. government and supports their decisions on terrorists� punishment. At the same time, we consider elimination of leading terrorist Osama bin Laden, the Taliban movement, and other terrorists not enough to liquidate terrorism. The mankind can get rid of terrorism only in case the democratic orders are set in all the world states, and if human rights and freedom of speech are respected there.

The U.S. is now the only power capable of setting democratic order everywhere. To save themselves, all the Central Asian states, especially Turkmenistan, will now endeavor to cooperate with the U.S. We warn the U.S. government against cooperation with present leadership of Turkmenistan in the fight against bin Laden and Taliban. The Turkmen people will not understand it, if it happens, because there is no difference at all between the Afghanistan's Taliban movement and the government of Turkmenistan, which has deprived its people of all basic rights, and which is pursuing a terrorist policy towards the Turkmen people, the policy of frightening and destruction.

The Turkmen people will welcome the deployment of U.S. troops in the Central Asian region, if this U.S. action brings them democracy, freedom, and will get rid of drugs coming to Turkmenistan from Afghanistan.

On behalf of the United Opposition of Turkmenistan -- Avdy Kuliev

Illegal Occupation Of Amu-Darya Bank


20 September 2001

As an independent source in Turkmenistan reports, Uzbekistan has occupied the part of Turkmen land in the districts of Farab, Hodzhambas, Dosluk on the right bank of Amu-Darya River. The occupied area is 15 km deep from the official state border.

The local people suppose that such an act could have been taken only with the agreement of the Turkmen President Niyazov.

As the result, the major water wells in Hodzhambas district in Kyzyl-kumy desert became Uzbek property.

This information has not been confirmed by independent sources.

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