Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Photogallery Karimova Pictured Under 'House Arrest'

RFE/RL

Several photographs showing Uzbek President Islam Karimov's once-powerful daughter during her alleged house arrest have been released to the media.

The images show Gulnara Karimova, an erstwhile globe-trotting fashionista now facing what she calls politically motivated corruption charges, apparently being hassled by camouflaged security officers outside her home.

Dressed casually in a sweatshirt and slippers, the photographs show her in what appears to be a tense standoff with the three men in blue fatigues.

The images were distributed to the media September 16 by the 42-year-old's Britain-based spokesman, Locksley Ryan, who said in an e-mailed statement that Karimova and her daughter are in "urgent need of medical attention."

"To add to this, those keeping her and her daughter prisoner have decided to inflict a program of systematic starvation, preventing any food from reaching them," Ryan said.

Karimova, 42, was a wealthy businesswoman living mainly in Europe until a corruption scandal last year led to setbacks that included the closure of her businesses, the arrest of friends and associates, and her alleged confinement in a Tashkent house.

On September 8, a woman identified as "G. Karimova" was identified by the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office as a suspect in a graft case.

Ryan said Karimova "is being held for purely political reasons" and linked her detention to the planned presidential elections in Uzbekistan early next year.

"During this campaign, the backing Gulnara continues to receive appears to pose a threat to those who have surrounded her father and who are keen to cling on to the unhealthy influence this affords them," Ryan said, adding that Karimova "has no interest whatsoever in the politics of today's Uzbekistan."

There was considerable speculation before her fortunes took a turn that she might be groomed to succeed her father, who has dominated Uzbekistan for 23 years.

Karimova said in recordings obtained by the BBC last month that she and her daughter are being treated "worse than dogs."


Gastronomy vs. Politics: Crimean Tatars Boycott Elections With Pies

Boycotting Election, Crimean Tatars Make Pies Insteadi
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September 15, 2014
As Crimea held local and regional elections on September 14, many Crimean Tatars boycotted the vote -- the first election since Russia annexed the peninsula. In the town of Bakhchysarai, some residents, like Gulzara, highlighted the boycott by making a traditional Crimean Tatar dish, chebureki, instead of going to the polls. (RFE/RL)
Mustafa Chaush

As local and regional elections unfolded across Crimea on September 14, the smell of fried meat pies filled the streets in the city of Bakhchysarai.

Crimean Tatars, an indigenous population of the peninsula, have actively boycotted the vote -- the first local elections since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.

In Bakhchysarai, an ancient city that once served as the capital of the Crimean khanate, some Crimean Tatars chose to snub the vote by demonstratively staying home and cooking a traditional Crimean Tatar dish: meat pies known as "chebureki."

"What elections?" scoffs Gulzara, a Crimean Tatar living in Bakhchysarai, as she molds the half-moon-shaped pasties. "Everything has long been decided for us."

The initiative, dubbed "Chebureki Instead Of Elections," aimed to peacefully reject the legitimacy of Crimea's new Moscow-backed authorities while upholding Crimean Tatar culture. 

Gulzara says the protest was a success.

"It was great," she says. "I had plenty of guests, people who also didn't take part in the election."

Residents of the Black Sea peninsula were voting to select lawmakers for the parliaments of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and for local city council members.

Lawmakers will then elect governors for Crimea and Sevastopol.

A preliminary count gave the ruling United Russia party a strong lead with more than 70 percent of votes, trailed by the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with just over 8 percent of the ballots.

In Sevastopol, which voted separately, United Russia had captured 59 percent of the vote with half the ballots counted.

Critics, however, reject the vote as both illegitimate and flawed.

A leading independent Russian election watchdog, Golos, said its observers were prevented from entering several polling stations in Crimea.

  • At a polling station in Simferopol, Russia's double-headed eagle has replaced the Ukrainian emblem.
  • Irregularities were reported soon after the polling stations opened.
  • A man casts his ballot in Simferopol.
  • Turnout was reportedly lower than during the independence referendum that paved the way for Russia's takeover in March.
  • A voter studies the ballot. Many residents of Crimea, voting in a Russian election for the first time, are unfamiliar with Russian political parties.
  • A quiet moment at a polling station
  • Election officials reported voter turnout at 60 percent.
  • Police, self-defense groups, election observers, and officials of the Emergency Ministry were all on watch at polling stations.

The election took place against the backdrop of increasing pressure on Crimean Tatars, who are facing raids on their homes, religious institutions, businesses and schools.

"Such actions are clearly disproportionate and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation," Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, said on September 12 following a visit to Crimea. 

Muižnieks said it was "essential to create a sense of security not only for Crimean Tatars but also for ethnic Ukrainians and those who have expressed critical views of recent political developments."


The Week Ahead: September 15-21

September 16: The European Union and Ukrainian parliaments are scheduled to ratify the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
 
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, September 15:
 
EUEuropean Parliament plenary session opens in Strasbourg (to September 18).
 
EU/Russia: The EU commissioner responsible for agriculture Dacian Ciolos address the European Parliament plenary session on the impact of the Russian food ban on the EU agricultural market.
 
Iran/TurkmenistanIranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan visits Ashgabat to discuss bilateral, regional, and international issues with Turkmen officials. 

IraqFrance hosts an international conference aimed at combating the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq.

Russia: Russia’s international food and drink trade show opens in Moscow.

UkraineMilitary exercises, called "Rapid Trident," involving some 1,300 personnel from 15 nations begin in western Ukraine (to September 26).

UN: International Day of Democracy.

U.S./Russia: Harvard's Institute of Politics hosts a conversation with the feminist protest art collective Pussy Riot.
 
World: The 2014 WebAward winners announced.
 
 
TUESDAY, September 16:
 
 
UN: The 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly begins in New York (to October 1).
 

Ukraine: The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, Chaloka Beyani, visits Ukraine to gather first-hand information from internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country.
(to September 25).
 
 
WEDNESDAY, September 17:
 
EU: European Parliament plenary session is scheduled to discuss the situations in Iraq and Syria (to September 18).
 
Montenegro/Azerbaijan: Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic visits Baku (to September 20).
 
Poland:  The 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union, sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded the Polish state.
 
TurkmenistanInternational Telecoms & IT Conference opens in Ashgabad (to September 18).
 
Ukraine/CanadaUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits Ottawa, gives a speech at the Canadian Parliament.
 
 
THURSDAY, September 18:
 
 

United Kingdom: Scotland holds referendum on its independence.

EU/Azerbaijan: The European Parliament holds a debate on persecution of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.
 
 
FRIDAY, September 19:
 
 
 
SUNDAY, September 21:
 

Tags:calendar of events, radio free europe, radio liberty


Images And Memories: Tell Us Your Ukraine Story

In September, our correspondent Daisy Sindelar will be traveling through Ukraine to talk to people about their old family photographs -- images of grandparents and great-grandparents, weddings, family homes, military service, formal portraits or casual moments. Anything that tells a story about your family and its unique roots.

The end result, we hope, will be a countrywide visual portrait of the complex history behind modern-day Ukraine, and the diverse range of people who consider it home. 

Participating in the project is simple: We will come to you, so neither you nor your photographs need to leave the house (or wherever you'd like to meet). 

Do you have photographs and memories you'd like to share with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty?

Please fill out this questionnaire so we know how to find you! (Feel free to answer in the language you're most comfortable with. All of the information you submit is private.) 


A Bosnian Man's Lonely Stand To Find The Bones Of His Son

"I will not leave this place without his bones unless they drive me off in a box," says Djemal Hasanovic.

Djemail Hasanovic, a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a determined expression, has set up a bed on the side of the road leading from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Podravanje. A sign posted nearby declares he is on a hunger strike.

"This is the place where he died, my son, Dzevad Hasanovic," the man says. "I will not leave this place without his bones unless they drive me off in a box."

Dzevad Hasanovic was killed in the area during Bosnia's bloody war of the mid-1990s. Ten years ago, Djemail Hasanovic began working with the Institute for Missing People in a bid to recover and bury his son's remains.

Sadik Selimovic, an investigator with the institute, tells RFE/RL's Balkan Service that he worked with Hasanovic to follow up on reports about the locations of the bodies of his son and of several others killed in the area between 1993 and 1995.

"Today I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I found a bone, which proves they can be found," says Djemail Hasanovic.
"Today I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I found a bone, which proves they can be found," says Djemail Hasanovic.

"We were digging in four locations, but we had no success," Selimovic says. "We are continuing to study, but often our information is misleading or incomplete."

But Hasanovic is not satisfied.

"I'm frustrated," he says. "Today [September 9] I found a bone. This made me glad, even if it is not one of my son's. I'm glad I did it. I found a bone, which proves they can be found. I'm not an inspector, but I did it for my son."

Hasanovic called Selimovic with his discovery and Selimovic hurried to the scene. 

"I came here because I was called. I am not against this family. I am on their side," he says.

Selimovic confirmed that Hasanovic had found human remains and applied to the prosecutor's office for permission to search the area.

When the go-ahead comes, Hasanovic will still be holding his vigil. And he will wait until a DNA analysis confirms his son has been found.

"I don't want just anyone's bones," he says. "I don't want to bury someone who is not my son."

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Bosnians remain missing from the 1992-95 war.

-- Sadik Salimovic, RFE/RL Balkan Service


Video New Film Lays Bare 'Pakistan's Hidden Shame'

Naeem, 13, says he first sold himself to a man in a Peshawar park when he was 8 years old. He subsequently relied on prostitution to feed his heroin habit.

The United Kingdom's sizable Pakistani community has been under fire recently as a result of shocking revelations of widespread child sex exploitation in the city of Rotherham by men with links to that South Asian country.

Now, a new documentary screened by Britain's Channel 4 last week has been shifting attention to the problem of child abuse in Pakistan itself, particularly the northwestern city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border.

"Pakistan's Hidden Shame" charts the plight of Peshawar's street children, most of whom are believed to have experienced sexual abuse at some stage in their lives.  

One of the film's central characters is a 13-year-old boy called Naeem, who says he first had sex with a man when he was 8 years old in order to buy some food after running away from an abusive older brother at home.

Living on the street, he subsequently succumbed to heroin addiction and regularly prostituted himself to feed his habit.

Naeem's situation is tragically common in a country racked by deprivation and all its concomitant dangers.

According to some estimates, there are 1.5 million street children living in Pakistan, whose poverty makes them particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation. A staggering 90 percent of them are thought to have been molested at some stage.

Many of the perpetrators of these crimes are bus and truck drivers whose long hours and low wages often give them the opportunity and incentive to pay these children a pittance for sex in stations and terminals around the city.

Most of the victims of this trade are young boys, a fact that director Mohammed Naqvi suggests has a lot to do with the "fierce patriarchal mindset that is pervasive in Peshawar, one in which women are viewed as receptacles of family honor to be safeguarded at home."

It's a view echoed in the film by Ejaz, a bus conductor who admits to having sex with around a dozen boys.

"A woman is a thing you keep at home," he says. "You can't take women out because people stare at them -- they're useless things; you have to show propriety and chasteness with them. You can take boys around anywhere with you and it isn't a big deal."

The topic is a familiar one to the film's producer, Jamie Doran, whose award-winning "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan" laid bare a shocking sexual exploitation ring run by Afghan warlords.

"In Pakistan, you're having the abuse of young boys, largely because young girls aren't available..." he told CNN. "If you really delve into the reasons behind this, you will find in such societies the role of women is so meager their power is almost nonexistent and every survey in recent times has linked the lack of female power to pedophilia."

Somewhat surprisingly, Ejaz appears to view his behavior as quite normal in such a sexually repressed society, despite being aware that his actions are wrong.

"What can we do?" he says at one point. "We know it's totally against Islam. God doesn't like it. But we're helpless against our desire."

Sadly, it appears that homeless kids are also helpless against Ejaz's desire, because little is being done for the underage sex workers of Peshawar, where the local police force is more preoccupied with a Taliban insurgency than the safety of street children.

In fact, hot on the heels of the Rotherham sex scandal, Naqvi's film has been making bigger waves in Britain and other Western countries than it has in Pakistan, where there seems to be little appetite for a public debate on such a taboo subject.

Even though leading Pakistani politician Imran Khan has said the movie's revelations are "sad and shameful," no local TV network has broadcast the documentary yet, despite the fact that the screening rights were offered to them by the filmmakers free of charge.

WATCH: Trailer for 'Pakistan's Hidden Shame'

 

-- Coilin O'Connor


Gulnara Karimova's Spectacular Fall From Grace

Gulnara Karimova attends a party marking the birthday of De Grisogono jewellery house founder and president Fawaz Gruosi at the Billionaire Club in Sardinia, Italy, in August 2012.

Gulnara Karimova once had it all. High-flying pop singer. Globe-trotting fashionista. A diplomat whose postings put her on the fast track to succeed her all-powerful presidential father, Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov.

But Karimova's star began to dim in recent years amid criticism of her lavish lifestyle abroad, her failure as a UN ambassador to speak out on human rights abuses at home, and persistent allegations of corruption.

Her star appeared to officially fall on September 8 when a woman identified as "Karimova G." was named by the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office as a suspect in a graft case. The assumption is that it can be no other than the 42-year-old Karimova, who is believed to be under house arrest in Tashkent.

Here is a look at some of her lowlights in recent years:

September 2011: Out Of Fashion

Karimova's fashion line, Guli, has its New York's Fashion Week show cancelled after the organizer said it was "horrified by the "human rights abuses in Uzbekistan." The runway show is then moved to a chic downtown restaurant, Cipriani, where about two dozen people assemble to protest the use of child labor during Uzbek cotton harvests. About 200 people show up for the show, but Karimova reportedly stays away.

June 2012: Singing Falls Flat

Karimova releases a pop album to a worldwide audience. Her website (now offline) touts a "stellar review" of the album from "Billboard" magazine and a "great interview with CNN," but neither link works and there is no record of either the review or the interview. In January 2013, she records a single in Russian with French actor-turned-Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu. 

April 2013: Diplomatic Disappearance

Her name suddenly disappears from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry's official list of ambassadors, indicating that she has been removed from her post as Uzbekistan's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, a post she had held since September 2008. She is officially out of her position in July. 

May 2013: Bribery Allegations

Documents leaked to Swedish investigative journalists and reviewed by RFE/RL appear to offer fresh evidence of a link between Karimova and Swedish telecom giant TeliaSonera.

October 2013: Off-Air

Several Karimova-controlled television and radio channels abruptly stop broadcasting. Officials say that the reason is basic maintenance.

October 2013: Frozen Accounts

Terra Group, a media holding company associated with Karimova, has its bank accounts frozen because of allegations of financial wrongdoing.

November 2013: Tweets Silenced

Karimova, an avid user of Twitter, for the first time addresses alleged rights abuses in Uzbekistan. She posts a series of tweets that suggest one of her bodyguards had been arrested and subsequently beaten by members of the country's security services. Her Twitter account is disabled later that month, but appears again in December when she uses it to attack her sister. Her once-prolific social-media presence goes fully dark in February.

February 2014: Criminal Ties?

Karimova's apartment in Tashkent is searched, and her boyfriend, Rustam Madumarov, and two other associates are detained. The three are accused by investigators of being part of a criminal case linked to tax evasion and illegal possession of hard currency.

March 2014: House Arrest

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service and the BBC obtain copies of a handwritten letter believed to be from Karimova saying that she was under house arrest and had been beaten and subjected to "severe psychological pressure." The same month, Karimova is named as a suspect in a bribery case involving the Swedish telecoms company TeliaSonera.

August 2014: House Arrest Audio

The BBC obtains recordings of Karimova complaining about her treatment under house arrest. She says that she and her daughter are being treated "worse than dogs" and that they have no contact with the outside world.

-- Luke Johnson

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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