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Central Asia Report: June 30, 2006

June 30, 2006, Volume 6, Number 20

WEEK AT A GLANCE (June 19-25, 2006). Kazakhstan's Mazhilis (lower chamber of parliament) passed controversial amendments to the country's media law. Journalists, watchdog groups, and the OSCE have criticized the proposed changes as overly restrictive, and approximately 200 people held a rally in Almaty to protest the amendments. Elsewhere, Darigha Nazarbaeva, daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, told a conference of the pro-presidential Asar Party, which she heads, that pro-presidential forces should unite and form a new party "based on principles of broad, intraparty democracy." Nazarbaeva said, "No other party will be able to compete with such a party for the next 50 years -- this is the goal we should set for ourselves."

Tuigunaly Abdraimov, chairman of Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission, said that voters in future parliamentary elections should vote for party slates instead of individual candidates. A referendum on constitutional reform is scheduled by yearend, and draft constitutions prepared by a task force headed by former Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov currently envisage party-slate parliamentary elections in place of single-seat constituencies. The head of the agency responsible for coordinating tax payments that fund social services charged that U.S.-based NGO Freedom House has failed to pay taxes on its Kyrgyz employees. Russian state-controlled gas concern Gazprom announced that it has acquired more than 100 filling stations in Kyrgyzstan for approximately $99 million. President Bakiev criticized the executive branch for lax discipline and told ministers that they cannot take any vacations until December. And Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov visited Bishkek.

Tajikistan cast doubts on an Uzbek report that the Uzbek authorities have arrested a Tajik citizen allegedly sent to Uzbekistan to carry out assassinations and terror attacks. The report claimed that the Tajik Interior Ministry dispatched Murodollo Juraev to Uzbekistan on a secret terror mission. But Anvar Taghoymurodov, the Tajik official alleged to have sent Juraev on the mission, called the allegation "groundless." Some observers viewed the initial report as Uzbekistan's reaction to the recent convictions of Uzbek spies in Tajikistan.

Reporters Without Borders called on foreign ambassadors in Ashgabat to try to secure the release of seven people, including RFE/RL reporter Ogulsapar Muradova and her three adult children, arrested on June 16-18 amid allegations by Turkmen officials that they were involved in an espionage plot. On another front, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry announced that the country has asked Russia's Gazprom to pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas in the second half of 2006 instead of the current price of $65. If Russia does not agree to the new terms within a month and a half, the ministry added, Turkmenistan will halt gas shipments.

An Uzbek court ruled that U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corporation, which operates a gold-mining joint venture in Uzbekistan, owes $36 million in back taxes for the period 2002-04. The company vowed an appeal. And Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged that Uzbek authorities are bringing criminal charges against human rights activists in an effort to stamp out dissent. The rights group noted that Azam Farmonov and Alisher Karamatov, members of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), received nine-year prison terms last week on extortion charges in a case HRW said "appears to be a politically motivated effort" against the two men.

IS TURKMENISTAN THE ACHILLES' HEEL OF EUROPEAN ENERGY SECURITY? In the wake of the "gas war" between Russia and Ukraine in early 2006, and the brief interruption it caused in supplies to Europe, the world awoke to the increasing importance of Central Asian natural gas for European energy security. After all, the bulk of the natural gas that Ukraine imports through Russia comes from Turkmenistan. Now, with international ratings agency Fitch warning that the elements are in place for a "perfect storm" of an energy crisis, news comes on July 30 that talks between Turkmenistan and Ukraine over an independent agreement for gas supplies in the fourth quarter of 2006 have bumped up against the issue of transit through Russia. The previous day, Turkmenistan and Russia's state-controlled Gazprom broke off talks on late-2006 shipments to Russia amid Turkmen threats to cut off supplies in September. Is the storm fast approaching?

Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov arrived in Ashgabat on June 29, as Turkmenistan and Gazprom both reported that negotiations between Gazprom Chairman Aleksei Miller and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov were "broken off." Gazprom's press release stated that the breakdown occurred after the sides "failed to reach an agreement" over Turkmenistan's insistence that Gazprom pay $100 per 1,000 cubic meters for 2007 shipments and additional 2006 shipments. Until now, Gazprom has paid $65 per 1,000 cubic meters of Turkmen gas. Turkmenistan's official TDH news agency reported that Turkmenistan will finish deliveries of a previously contracted 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) at $65 per 1,000 cubic meters by September. After that, Turkmenistan threatened, it will halt shipments to Russia.

Feeling The Effects In Kyiv

The Gazprom-Turkmenistan price tiff had direct implications for Ukraine, which consumes 76 bcm of gas a year but produces only 20 bcm. It imports the remainder, with 41 bcm in Turkmen imports planned for 2006. The January compromise that ended the Russian-Ukrainian gas showdown set up a complex scheme for Ukrainian imports. Ukraine buys gas at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters from Rosukrenergo, a Swiss-registered trading company owned half by Gazprom and half by two Ukrainian businessmen. Rosukrenergo buys gas from Gazprom, which sells the trader a mixture of Russian gas at over $200 per 1,000 cubic meters and much cheaper Central Asian gas (primarily Turkmen, with lesser quantities from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan).

For Ukraine, the upside of the January compromise was the final price of $95 per 1,000 cubic meters, lower than prices elsewhere in the former Soviet Union (outside Russia and Belarus) and far lower than the EU average price of $240 per 1,000 cubic meters. And price matters -- analysts forecast a grim fate for Ukraine's energy-intensive chemical industry if the price of gas edges above $100, and tough times for the metal industry if it goes higher. Which brings us to two significant downsides of the January compromise: 1) its reliance on cheap Central Asian gas, and 2) its susceptibility to renegotiation after six months.

Both downsides were soon evident. In May, Kazakhstan, which is slated to ship 8 bcm to Russia in 2006, garnered a price hike from $50 to $140 per 1,000 cubic meters, "Vedomosti" reported on June 22. On May 22, Gazprom Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov announced that the rising price of Central Asian gas could increase Ukraine's purchase price to $130, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. On June 20, Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry announced that it planned to raise the price of gas for Gazprom in the second half of 2006 from $65 to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. Ryazanov told a press conference the same day that he envisaged Ukraine paying $150-$160 per 1,000 cubic meters by the end of the year.

Tricky Spot

In the Ukrainian-Turkmen talks on June 30, the Turkmen side noted that it will complete deliveries of the 30 bcm it has contracted to Russia by September. Then it offered Ukraine an independent deal for the fourth quarter of 2006 at $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, reported. But the offer came with a catch beyond the expected price hike: Ukraine must arrange transit for the gas -- presumably in the quantity of approximately 10 bcm -- through Russia on its own. The Ukrainian side will now return to Kyiv for consultations, and negotiations with Ashgabat will be continued later, reported.

The failed talks between Gazprom and Turkmenistan on June 29, inconclusive negotiations between Ashgabat and Kyiv on June 30, current lack of an agreement to ensure Ukraine's supplies through the end of the year, and the Turkmen threat to cut off shipments in September if its rising price demands are not met are, in the best light, tough bargaining in the extreme; in the worst, they represent a step toward a new gas crisis. For now, the episode lays bare the shifting sands on which Ukraine's gas supply rests.

Those shifting sands led Jeffrey Woodruff, director of the energy group at ratings agency Fitch, to warn on June 27 that the problems besetting the Turkmenistan-Ukraine gas nexus had "the makings of a perfect storm," Reuters reported. The specific elements Woodruff had in mind were Turkmenistan's threat to raise prices and the knock-on effect for Ukraine, Russian allegations that Ukraine was failing to refill underground storage tanks at sufficient rates, and rumblings in Ukraine of the need to renegotiate the knotted deal with Rusukrenergo. Woodruff stressed that "any of the events in isolation could be enough to spark new supply interruptions in Europe, but all of them colluding near the beginning of the G8 summit on energy security seems unbelievable."

The root of Europe's vulnerability is that Ukraine remains the conduit for 80 percent of the gas shipments the continent receives from Russia. And as the events of January demonstrated, if Ukraine experiences a shortfall, Europe does, too.

Endemic Problem

The underlying problem is the fragility of the entire framework for keeping Ukraine supplied with Turkmen gas, the essential component shielding Ukraine's economy from a potentially lethal price hike. What's worse, the fragility has multiple causes. For starters, Ukraine's economy is ill suited to withstand higher gas prices even as those prices are rising. And Ukrainian oil and gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny is financially strapped, with a $60 million debt to Turkmenistan for 2003-05 shipments and, according to Gazprom, arrears of $370 million for 2006 shipments as of June 15 (although Gazprom Deputy Chairman Ryazanov said that he expected Ukraine to pay that debt down to $100 million by July 1, and Ukraine has apparently promised to make good on its $64 million debt to Turkmenistan in September).

Moreover, with prices in Western Europe well over $200 per 1,000 cubic meters, Turkmenistan's desire to receive more than $65 per 1,000 cubic meters is natural. And Russia, which controls the only pipelines capable of delivering Turkmen gas to Ukraine, has made it clear that it plans to seek price increases across the board in the former Soviet Union, even from ally Belarus.

Against this challenging backdrop, political conflict in Ukraine -- where the formation of a coalition government has stalled amid parliamentary infighting -- has hampered the government's ability to fashion a unified negotiating position. Rocky relations between Russia and Ukraine are another impediment. Both elements have been on full display of late. Yuliya Tymoshenko, the expected prime minister in Ukraine's nascent ruling coalition, announced on June 22 that Ukraine must review existing gas deals and "build new agreements on a friendly basis with the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan." Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov warned the next day of a "new gas crisis" and charged that Tymoshenko's statements "once again confirm that Ukraine is the weak link in the system of gas suppliers to Europe," AP reported. Days later, amid continued wrangling in Ukraine's parliament, Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov told Kyiv's Channel 5 that there was, in fact, no need to renegotiate the January 4 deal with Russia over Turkmen gas.

The Niyazov Factor

Yet another factor is Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, who enjoys nearly unlimited power and has used it to indulge in such megalomaniacal whimsy as the construction of a huge golden statue of himself that rotates to face the sun at all times. In late December, Niyazov signed a deal with Ukraine to supply 40 bcm in 2006 at $50 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first half of the year and $60 in the second. Days later, he signed another contract with Gazprom at a higher price, and that deal eventually served as the basis for the arrangement with Rusukrenergo that has seen Ukraine pay $95 per 1,000 cubic meters thus far in 2006. The contract with Ukraine was never implemented.

The deal that was implemented -- involving Turkmenistan, Russia, the Swiss-registered Rosukrenergo, and Ukraine -- drew fire for its murk and middlemen. In an April 2006 report on the Turkmen-Ukraine gas trade, NGO Global Witness documented a history of business practices that can charitably be described as highly unorthodox culminating in the creating of Rosukrenergo. Global Witness also reported that 75 percent of Turkmenistan's hard-currency revenues from gas sales go into shadowy extra-budgetary funds controlled by Niyazov. The report concluded that the January 4 contract that resolved the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, and ended the interruption of supplies to Europe, "does not guarantee any security for any substantial period of time." Global Witness stressed that "the tangled maze of companies described in this report is hardly a solid foundation for a trade of such commercial and geostrategic importance."

Gazprom On Its Guard

And then there is Kremlin-controlled Gazprom, which jealously guards the only pipelines that can ship Turkmen gas to Ukraine. Before he arrived in Turkmenistan, Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Plachkov had said that he hoped to negotiate with Turkmenistan under the original, late-December contract that set a price of $50 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first half of 2006 and $60 in the second. But Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry announced on June 30 that Gazprom, citing limited pipeline capacity, refused in December to provide a license for the transport of gas through Russia under the Turkmen-Ukraine contract.

It is precisely such a license that Turkmenistan has now proposed that Ukraine try to negotiate with Russia, reported. What's more, Turkmenistan "is ready to review the issue of gas shipments to Ukraine in 2007 if the Ukrainian side receives a license for its transit."

The negotiating ploy here seems clear -- to put the ball in Gazprom's court, letting Russia decide whether or not it wants to imperil a possible Turkmen-Ukrainian gas deal. And the timing is dramatic, with Russia set to host a G8 summit on energy security in only two weeks' time.

Yet the waters of the Turkmen-Ukraine gas trade have never been muddier. For one, the 2007 shipments Turkmenistan is now "ready to review" were thought to have been promised to Russia under a 2003 "contract of the century." But as previous experience with Turkmenistan has shown, contracts are not the final word. That belongs to Niyazov -- who is only one factor among the many enumerated here, all of which are coming into play as Europe, which receives one-fifth of its gas through Ukraine, watches and wonders about the winter ahead. (Daniel Kimmage)

KAZAKHSTAN: UZBEK WITH UN REFUGEE STATUS DETAINED IN ALMATY. Uzbek citizen Gabdurafih Temirboev was detained in the Kazakh city of Almaty on June 24 despite having United Nations refugee status. Temirboev's wife, Bakhtygul Omonova, said three men purporting to be Kazakh police burst into their house in Almaty overnight on June 24 and took her husband away.

Omonova said her husband, who is 33, was granted refugee status by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on June 16.

Temirboev has lived for more than seven years with his family in Kazakhstan. He lived in Almaty with three other Uzbek asylum seekers and their families. Omonova denies her husband has committed any crimes and says Temirboev has been wanted by Uzbek police for "simply being a peaceful Muslim."

Unexpected Visitors

Speaking to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Omonova gave details of her husband's detention.

"They broke into our house at 3:45 in the morning when everybody was asleep," she said. "All the men were asleep. As we learned later, they were watching us. Then, they opened the door [to the room] and told the men: 'Hey, get up. Do you have any documents?' They threatened the men. [My husband's] friend, Islomjon, got sick because he has [insular diabetes]. Another friend [was shocked] and had chest pains. They were unable to get up. We, women and children, were sleeping in another room. We got very scared."

Omonova said her husband showed his UN refugee card. One of the alleged police, who was wearing a Kazakh police uniform, explained that a car in the neighborhood had been broken into. They then took Omonova's husband away because they said he looked like a suspect, she said.

Omonova did not receive any information about her husband in the following days and the Almaty police denied arresting Temirboev. That's when some suggested that he may have been abducted by the Uzbek secret service.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on June 26, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry's Almaty office, Arman Zhusanbai, hinted at the possible involvement of Uzbekistan.

"We have absolutely no information regarding the present situation [regarding Temirboev]," he said. "Nobody told us anything. Maybe it's their country [Uzbekistan] that took [Temirboev] away."

Secret Service Admits Detention

Finally, information appeared on June 28 that Temirboev has been held by the Kazakh secret service, the KNB.

Speaking to RFE/RL from Almaty, Yevgeny Zhovtis, the head of Kazakhstan's International Bureau for Human Rights, said he has no information about the charges that Temirboev faces.

"This is not clear," he said. "Formally, no charges have been brought against him. We only got official confirmation that he is in the detention center of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee. He was detained by National Security Committee officers. Before we had only a denial of his arrest from the Interior Ministry. What charges are brought against him? What suspicions? Are there any documents, like an extradition request from Uzbekistan's prosecutors? All these questions remain unclear."

The UNHCR has been involved in the process. Cesar Dubon, UNHCR representative in Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on June 26 that the agency is seeking an explanation from Kazakh authorities.

"[Kazakhstan's] Foreign Ministry is due to contact us with the final statement," he said. "So, for the time being, we are waiting for the confirmation."

Seeking Information

Dubon told RFE/RL in an e-mail on June 28 that the Kazakh Foreign Ministry has promised to provide details of Temirboev's detention and access to him as soon as possible.

Omonova wrote an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev and other Kazakh officials on June 25 asking for help in gaining the release of her husband. Kazakh officials have not yet responded to the letter, according to an Uzbek friend of Temirboev who also lives in Almaty but does not want to be identified.

"When a request was sent to the Foreign Ministry, they responded that if Temirboev is still in Kazakh territory, they would not let him out," he said. "But there was no further response. No official response has been given by the government."

Temirboev, his wife, and their two young children have lived in Kazakhstan since March 1999. They moved to Almaty from the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent near the Uzbek border in late 2005.

Omonova says they decided to move to Almaty after several Uzbek refugees were abducted by the Uzbek security service (SNB) and forcibly returned to Uzbekistan.

Religious Repression

Last November, the Moscow-based Memorial human rights group reported that at least nine Uzbeks who had left their country under harassment for their religious activities were kidnapped in Shymkent and turned over to Uzbek authorities. Witnesses claimed that the abductions were carried out by the SNB. As these reports appeared, some 60 Uzbeks residing in southern Kazakhstan with their families asked the UNHCR Almaty office for asylum.

Omonova denied her husband has committed any crimes and said Temirboev has been wanted by Uzbek police for "simply being a peaceful Muslim." She also said that she has been under pressure, receiving threatening phone calls and demands to give information about an Uzbek relative.

Omonova does not have refugee status and says she is afraid of being forcibly returned to Uzbekistan.

"My two children are crying," she said. "We are in someone else's house. Our situation is very hard, financially and otherwise. I fear for my husband, his possible return to Uzbekistan. We came here because we wanted peace. My husband is an ordinary Muslim. I don't want to return to my country with my children because life is very hard there, not only economically but also in regards to other issues." (By Gulnoza Saidazimova. Originally published on June 28, 2006.)

KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL SON-IN-LAW'S NEW ROLE HIGHLIGHTS ENERGY POLITICS. One of Kazakhstan's biggest state oil and gas companies, KazMunaiGaz, announced on June 27 that the son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbaev will chair the company's new board of directors. Timur Kulibaev is married to Nazarbaev's second daughter, Dinara Nazarbaeva. His is a familiar face in Kazakh politics, and he's no newcomer to the oil and gas business. But Kulibaev's promotion to a key strategic sector's top spot has raised some eyebrows nevertheless.

On paper, 39-year-old Kulibaev appears well groomed for his new position at KazMunaiGaz. He worked in executive and other senior posts in Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry before and after a three-year stint (2002-05) as the company's first vice president.

But his marriage to the president's daughter, Dinara, might be as important as his employment history.

Strategic Time

Kazakhstan has huge, relatively untapped oil and gas fields. The country's export potential is limited due to a lack of export routes, but it has joined up recently with several major pipeline projects to feed energy-hungry countries both East and West.

Bolatkhan Taizhan is a political analyst and a former Kazakh ambassador to Malaysia, a country that has invested heavily in Kazakhstan's oil sector. He says President Nazarbaev stands to gain the most from Kulibaev's appointment.

"This means that [President] Nazarbaev's family is gaining power," Taizhan says. "Nazarbaev seems to have managed to get the major sector of the national economy directly into his own hands through the appointment of his son-in-law to that position. Of course, even before [Kulibaev's appointment], all the sectors were under President Nazarbaev's control. But now -- and I have to repeat this -- the appointment of his son-in-law to that position means direct control of the sector for Nazarbaev."

Oraz Zhandosov is a former Kazakh trade, industry, and economy minister who is now a senior member of the opposition Naghyz Ak Zhol party. He claims Kulibaev's appointment is a continuation of presidential politics at the expense of sound government.

"It happened long ago and it continues," Zhandosov says. "[Kulibaev's appointment] is a conflict of interest."

President Nazarbaev's office has not commented on the appointment.

Tight Circle?

Several of Nazarbaev's children and their spouses have prominent positions in Kazakhstan's heavily intertwined public and private sectors. Kulibaev and his wife, Dinara, indirectly control a majority stake in the country's third-biggest bank, Halyk Bank. President Nazarbaev's eldest daughter, Darigha, is the head the pro-presidential Asar, a member of parliament, and wields much influence in the state media sector. Darigha's husband, Rakhat Aliev, is a deputy foreign minister.

Dos Koshim, the chairman of the nongovernmental Network of Independent Observers, says Kulibaev's appointment might have something to do with a possible family rift. Koshim suggests the move is aimed at countering presidential daughter Darigha and her husband's growing influence in Kazakhstan -- and their perceived independence from Nazarbaev himself.

"For me, the recent changes with the positions of this sector seem like a campaign by Nazarbaev to accrue more power in his own hands," Koshim says. "[Long-time presidential supporter] Kairat Kelimbetov's appointment to the Stable Development Fund Qazyna, [and] the appointment of [Nazarbaev's] second son-in-law, Kulibaev, as director KazMunaiGaz -- all this looks like Nazarbaev's attempt to base his powers not on Darigha and Rakhat, but on his second son-in-law. And it looks to me like a clear message."

Koshim also points to a recent appointment of Ermukhammet Ertisbaev to head the Information Ministry as further evidence that Nazarbaev is stacking the deck. Ertisbaev is a former adviser who has been Nazarbaev's point man this year in fielding criticism from eldest presidential daughter Darigha over a range of issues.

But whatever the implications within the family, second son-in-law Timur Kulibaev is now in charge of one of Kazakhstan's biggest sources of revenues.

(By Bruce Pannier. Merhat Sharipzhan of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service contributed to this report. Originally published on June 27, 2006.)

TAJIKISTAN: ON NATIONAL UNITY DAY, FORMER OPPOSITION LEADER LOOKS BACK AT PEACE TALKS. Amid celebrations to mark Tajikistan's Day of National Unity on June 27, RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent Darius Rajabian spoke with former Tajik Islamic opposition leader Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda. Turajonzoda was a member of the opposition delegation to peace negotiations during that conflict. A peace deal was signed with the Russian-backed government nine years ago today, on June 27, 1997, ending five years of bloody civil war. Turajonzoda talked about some of the highlights of the negotiations.

RFE/RL: What were the most memorable moments or days of the peace process?

Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda: From the peace process, I remember those days in 1995 when the negotiations in Moscow were postponed for three days because of the opposition side's protest. We protested, because Russian Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev shook hands with each of the Tajik government's representatives and then went on to read his statement. The statement was full of threats to Tajik opposition forces. Then he wished everyone well and was about to leave the room. But I said, "Mr. Minister, we didn't come here to listen to your exhortation. If you don't treat both sides equally, why did you choose to be the host of the negotiations and why did you invite us here?" We demanded an apology, saying we wouldn't be come to the negotiations unless they apologized. They did, and we returned.

RFE/RL: Looking back 10 years later, who do you think played the most prominent part in those peace negotiations?

Turajonzoda: Frankly, both sides played great roles. In 1996, both sides were almost equal politically and in terms of armed forces. Our mujahedin were high-spirited, and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) forces had vast regions under their control. Today, unfortunately, Tajik media -- especially the state-run media -- exaggerate the part played by the government side, trying to ignore what the UTO did. But it's normal not to boost one's rival during a political campaign, or not to give any credit to what one's rivals have done. Frankly, it's no big deal to me, because I know that it's just politicians' mindset.

RFE/RL: If you had an opportunity to turn the time back, would you choose the same path again or would you act differently?

Turajonzoda: Fortunately time does not move backward. Even if it did, peace would always be our only goal -- as it was our main goal in those days. Perhaps we would want to implement the peace accord in a slightly different way.

RFE/RL: In what way exactly?

Turajonzoda: Well, even then we knew that the transition period should have started only after handing over 30 percent of the power to the opposition, as was written in the peace accord. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Partly we blame ourselves for this, because we have always been willing to make too many concessions. I have never accepted the term "unilateral amnesty," and throughout the negotiations I insisted that all criminal cases [against opposition members] must be closed. If we had insisted further on that position, perhaps many of our friends and followers wouldn't have been jailed or forced into exile.

RFE/RL: Why you didn't you raise these issues during your days as first deputy prime minister?

Turajonzoda: We discussed these issues so many times. However, in my position as first deputy prime minister I had neither the power nor the responsibility to get involved in political or military issues. (Originally published on June 27, 2006.)