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Central Asia Report: September 23, 2005

23 September 2005, Volume 5, Number 36

WEEK AT A GLANCE (12-18 September 2005). Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev warned foreign and local NGOs that their activities in the lead-up to 4 December presidential elections must not violate national-security legislation. He specified, "This includes not interfering in the country's internal affairs by financing political parties and social movements and supporting this or that candidate on behalf of international and Kazakh NGOs..." Meanwhile, the list of presidential hopefuls grew, as the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan nominated Erasyl Abylkasymov, a deputy to the lower chamber of parliament, and Salim Oten, a businessman from Almaty, nominated himself. Elsewhere, visiting Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan signed an agreement with Kazakh Defense Minister Colonel Mukhtar Altynbaev under which China will provide Kazakhstan with 16 million yuans ($2 million) in no-strings aid.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees airlifted 11 Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to London, leaving four Uzbek citizens in detention in Osh. President Kurmanbek Bakiev vetoed a bill on government restructuring, prompting a round of legislative wrangling. The dispute came as lawmakers waited for the recently elected Bakiev to present the members of his cabinet. Meanwhile, a parliamentary commission came out in favor of a request by the Prosecutor-General's Office for parliament to vote on the possibility of stripping Aidar Akaev, son of former President Askar Akaev, of his immunity from prosecution so that he can face corruption charges. Former Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev, who also faces corruption charges, was released from detention at the National Security Service and transferred to house arrest. Kyrgyz and Uzbek border guards resolved the aftermath of a 5 September fight on an unmarked section of the border, with each country returning three of its neighbor's border guards. And Japan agreed to restructure Kyrgyzstan's $239 million debt to Japan.

Davlatali Davlatov, first deputy chairman of Tajikistan's ruling People's Democratic Party, caused a brief stir when he commented to Reuters on Uzbekistan's recent eviction of a U.S. military base, saying that Tajikistan "cooperate[s] closely with the United States" and "always say[s] yes." Davlatov later stressed that his remarks should not have been taken to imply that Tajikistan is ready to host an American military base. Also in the military realm, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan visited to explore ways of expanding Chinese-Tajik military and technical cooperation. Police arrested 12 suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir members between 6-13 September. And the UN High Commissioner for Refugees condemned the Tajik government's forced return of five Afghan refugees from Tajikistan to Afghanistan.

The shakeup of Turkmenistan's energy sector continued unabated, with President Saparmurat Niyazov sacking Guichmurad Esenov, head of the Turkmenbashi refinery, for corruption and drunkenness. Niyazov appointed Amangeldi Pudakov, who had been minister of the oil and gas ministry and mineral resources, to replace Esenov. Deputy Prime Minister Guichnazar Tachnazarov was tapped to replace Pudakov as minister. Other recent victims of energy-sector sackings, often accompanied by criminal charges, have been Deputy Prime Minister Yolly Gurbanmuradov and national oil company head Saparmemed Valiev.

As Tashkent braced for the 20 September trial of 15 alleged organizers of violence in Andijon, First Deputy Prosecutor-General Anvar Nabiev briefed journalists, saying that militants who hoped to establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan used Kyrgyzstan as a staging ground and received $200,000 from Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tohir Yoldosh. The defendants include three Kyrgyz citizens, but Kyrgyz officials denied the charges that those responsible for violence in Andijon trained on Kyrgyz territory. Nabiev also blasted human rights activists and foreign media, alleging that the BBC and RFE/RL, among others, slandered Uzbekistan in their reports. President Islam Karimov issued a decree ordering a 20-percent increase in state-sector wages, pensions, stipends, and other social-benefit payments as of 1 October. And a civil court in Tashkent suspended the activities of U.S. based exchange organization IREX for six months, arguing that IREX had violated its charter.

ANDIJON UPRISING TRIAL OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN. Fifteen men have gone on trial in Uzbekistan on charges of organizing an uprising in the city of Andijon in May that ended in bloodshed. The case has attracted international attention, not least because official and independent versions of the unrest differ sharply.

Authorities call it a thwarted Islamist plot, and say terrorists were responsible for the deaths of some 190 people. But rights groups call it a massacre by security forces, and say several hundred mainly innocent civilians were killed.

The 15 men on trial include a number of businessmen whose original trial on charges of Islamic extremism sparked the Andijon uprising.

On 20 September they sat in a metal cage in a packed room in Uzbekistan's Supreme Court in Tashkent to hear the multiple charges read out against them -- terrorism, murder, hostage taking, and an attempted coup.

Presiding over the trial, court Deputy Chairman Bakhtior Jamalov said: "Some 200 citizens suffered in connection with these criminal cases. Most of them, or their legal representatives, are here in the courtroom today while the rest of them have stated that they will also participate in further hearings."

Critics, however, say the trial is likely to shed little light on the events in Andijon -- or see the true perpetrators brought to justice. Instead, they're calling the trial a whitewash. They say authorities have used coerced confessions and a campaign of intimidation against those who have tried to tell the truth.

"Those journalists who have been able to go to Andijon have virtually been unable to interview anyone, because people are so frightened to talk to journalists, because they've been told by law enforcement that if they're seen talking to journalists they'll have to pay for that," Maisy Weicherding of Amnesty International said.

The events leading up to Andijon's "Bloody Friday" began three days earlier, with a peaceful protest in the city against the Islamic extremism trial of 23 local businessmen.

Then, on the night of 12-13 May, events took a violent turn. Armed men attacked military barracks and then broke into the city's prison, releasing hundreds of remand and convicted prisoners, including the men on trial.

One of the businessmen, Burkhoniddin Nuritdinov, later described the events of that night. "We'd never seen anything like it before," he said. "I'd never heard any gunfire in my entire life. I was shocked. We went to the corridor and were standing there for a while. The crowd was growing and someone said, 'Let's go downstairs.' We went downstairs, still in shock. We gathered outside. It was very dark, there were no lights on. Someone said: 'If you want, you can go to the hokimiyat [regional administration building]. We will demand our rights'. People marched toward the hokimiyat."

That regional government building, on the city's main square, quickly became the focus of the uprising. Protesters occupied the building, taking some police and local officials hostage.

The news quickly spread, drawing hundreds of ordinary people to the square. The gathering turned into a rally to demand better living conditions.

Then, in the early evening, came the bloodshed.

Witnesses say security forces fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Galima Bukharbaeva of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting spoke from the scene: "There were two or three BTRs [armored personnel carriers] at first. I couldn't tell exactly, because I was running together with the crowd. But then, just five minutes later, more BTRs came, and they started shooting at our backs. Bullets were flying. It was terrifying."

Human rights groups say hundreds of mainly innocent civilians were gunned down that night.

Authorities deny this. They say terrorists were responsible for the deaths of 187 people -- most of them soldiers or local officials. They say the violence was part of a plot to overthrow the government and set up an Islamic state.

But critics say authorities have ensured few people know exactly what happened in Andijon, while the government has rejected calls for an independent enquiry. And groups like Human Rights Watch say activists have been harassed or imprisoned, or have fled the country, following the more than 400 who sought refuge in Kyrgyzstan immediately after the events in May. (RFE/RL's Uzbek Service/agencies. Originally published on 20 September.)

RIGHTS GROUPS URGE ANDIJON INVESTIGATION. Two leading human rights organizations have criticized the government of Uzbekistan, accusing it of covering up the killing of hundreds of civilians in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon last May. As the trial began on 20 September in Uzbekistan of 15 people accused by the authorities of involvement in the Andijon events, London-based Amnesty International and New York-based Human Rights Watch issued new reports on the Andijon violence and called on the United States and the European Union to increase pressure for an international investigation into what really happened.

Amnesty's researcher on Uzbekistan, Maisy Weicherding, said the government has launched a vicious campaign of violence and intimidation. "The government is trying very hard to put out their version of events of what happened in Andijon and is preventing anyone else from getting to the actual truth of what happened in Andijon," Weicherding said. "They are laying siege to the truth."

She said their aim is to ensure that nobody challenges the government's claim that the Andijon events were an attempted uprising by armed and dangerous Islamic extremists.

The Trial Begins

In Tashkent on 20 September, 15 men accused of plotting what authorities call a "bloody rebellion" went on trial. They sat in a metal cage in a packed courtroom in the Supreme Court as Anvar Nabiev, deputy prosecutor-general, read out charges against them including terrorism, hostage-taking, murder and an attempted coup.

The 15 men are the first of more than 100 people facing trial.

Uzbek authorities deny that their troops fired on unarmed civilians, and say 187 people died in the clashes on 13 May. That's three to four times fewer than the number of victims claimed by rights groups and independent observers.

According to eyewitness reports, security forces fired indiscriminately into crowds of thousands of demonstrators -- most of whom were unarmed civilians.

Journalists Under Scrutiny

Amnesty's report details the lengths to which the Uzbek government of President Islam Karimov has gone to prevent information that contradicts the official version of events from reaching the outside world: forced confessions, intimidation of eye-witnesses, detention without trial, torture, and physical assault. Weicherding says journalists have been singled out for particular attention.

"A lot of them have been threatened, some of them have been beaten up, some of them have been taken into custody and some of them have been forced to leave the country," she said. "For example, Galima Bukharbaeva, who was in Andijon and gave a lot of interviews to CNN and others and who was then later vilified in the press and called a traitor and who had to leave the country. Similarly, one of her colleagues, Tulkin Karaev, who was also working for International War and Peace Reporting."

RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Gafordjan Yuldashev reported from Andijon on the events of May but has since had to leave the country because of fears for his life. He recalls how the police picked him up in July.

"They shoved me into a deserted courtyard and began to search my bag," Yuldashev said. "They pulled out my tape recorder and camera, exposed all my photographs, and removed the tape from the recorder. When I said I was from Andijon, they said: 'If you want to stay alive, you better leave here.'"

The acting head of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Sojida Djakhfarova, says Yuldashev's experience is typical of the sort of pressure the bureau has been under since the Andijon events. She says authorities are withholding accreditation from RFE/RL staff and subjecting them to intimidation.

"Before expiration of our accreditation, at least five or six people were constantly threatened by the security service," Djakhfarova said. "They say: 'Are you still alive? Are you still alive?' This situation makes our correspondents reluctant to touch more sensitive issues like the Andijon events, like human rights issues. People are just scared."

Others too have had to cut back their operations in Uzbekistan.

"Since the unrest in Andijon, our staff in Uzbekistan have been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation," said Behrouz Afagh-Tabrizi, the head of the Eurasia Region of the BBC World Service. "Our main correspondent had to leave back in June because she was under government pressure and being threatened. A further six BBC staff members have also had to leave the country after they received threats and were harassed from the authorities, and two of them have been granted refugee status by the United Nations."

Avoiding A Confrontation?

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty accuse the United States and Europe of avoiding confrontation with the Uzbek government. The time has come, they say, for the international community to take a more robust approach.

Both organizations are calling on Washington and Brussels to impose sanctions on Uzbekistan, including an arms embargo, a visa ban on senior Uzbek officials and the suspension of trade privileges. They also urge stepped up pressure for an international investigation into the Andijon events. (Robert Parsons. Originally published on 20 September)

ANDIJON TIMELINE. 11-12 May 2005: Protests take place in Andijon as the trial of 23 businessmen for alleged involvement in a banned Islamist group nears a verdict.

12 May 2005: Armed men in Andijon attack a police station, army barracks, and jail, freeing several hundred prisoners.

13 May 2005: Gunmen seize the local government administration building and try unsuccessfully to take over the National Security Service headquarters in Andijon.

13 May 2005: A large demonstration takes place in central Andijon. The government uses force to disperse the demonstrators.

14 May 2005: Several hundred Uzbeks flee across the border to Kyrgyzstan.

14-16 May 2005: News agencies report several hundred dead in Uzbekistan after government forces fire on demonstrators. Uzbek President Islam Karimov blames religious extremists, while the Interior Ministry puts the death toll at 70. Uzbek authorities cut off foreign media in the country and attempt to expel foreign journalists from Andijon.

16 May 2005: No central authority evident in the city of Karasu on the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border after local residents rioted on 14 May. Uzbek troops surround the town.

17 May 2005: Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashid Qodirov announces that 169 people were killed in the violence in Andijon, most of them rebels or hostages. Qodirov denies government forces fired on demonstrators. Opposition party says more than 700 were killed. President Karimov calls estimates of 500 dead "imaginary" and says he would never have given the order to shoot on his own people. Carlos Zaccagnini, chief of mission for the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in Kyrgyzstan, says that the Kyrgyz Migration Department has registered 540 Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan as asylum seekers.

18 May 2005: Foreign diplomats given restricted 90-minute tour of Andijon. China praises Uzbekistan's handling of the Andijon crisis, while EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner calls for an independent inquiry.

19 May 2005: Uzbek troops regain control of Karasu. United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour announces that President Karimov has rejected calls for an independent international inquiry into the violence in Andijon.

21 May 2005: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls on the Uzbek authorities on to agree to an international inquiry.

23 May 2005: Foreign ministers of the European Union condemn the Uzbek government's "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force" in Andijon. Uzbek rights organization Ezgulik puts the death toll at more than 1,000. The lower chamber of Uzbekistan's parliament resolves to form a commission to investigate the events in Andijon

24 May 2005: NATO's North Atlantic Council calls itself "deeply disturbed by the recent violence in Uzbekistan" and warns that the crackdown could affect Uzbekistan's relations with the 26-member bloc.

25 May 2005: President Karimov again rejects calls for an international investigation, saying, "Our view, my view, and our government's view is that we think that the idea of setting up an international commission on investigating the Andijon events is groundless, and we will never agree to this."

26 May 2005: Uzbek and international rights groups warn that a general crackdown on dissent is under way in Uzbekistan in the wake of the violence in Andijon.

27 May 2005: RFE/RL is led to what appears to be a mass grave containing 37 gravesites in Andijon. RFE/RL later learned that the guide who led the correspondent to the site, a man in his late 50s named Juraboy, was stabbed to death by two unknown assailants.

29 May 2005: Three U.S. senators tell a news conference in Tashkent that Uzbekistan must allow an independent investigation of allegations that government troops fired on unarmed demonstrators in Andijon. No Uzbek officials agree to meet with the senators.

31 May 2005: U.S. President George W. Bush comments on Andijon, saying, "We want to know fully what took place there in Uzbekistan, and that's why we've asked the International Red Cross to go in."

2 June 2005: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov alleges widespread terrorist involvement in Andijon violence, saying, "We have information that a number of Islamic extremists, structures of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, remnants of the Taliban, and certain Chechen terrorists were involved in events in Uzbekistan."

4 June 2005: Acting Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva says that a camp housing nearly 500 Uzbek asylum seekers has been moved away from the Uzbek border and deeper into Kyrgyz territory.

6 June 2005: The U.S. Peace Corps announces that it has suspended its program in Uzbekistan, noting that "the visas of 52 Peace Corps volunteers and the Peace Corps country director [recently] expired and were not renewed."

7 June 2005: Human Rights Watch issues a report charging that Uzbek government forces perpetrated a "massacre" in Andijon on 13 May.

8 June 2005 U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack tells reporters that eyewitness accounts indicate that Uzbek government forces killed hundreds of civilians in Andijon on 13 May.

9 June 2005: The European Parliament issues a resolution stating that members of the body "strongly condemn the excessive, brutal and indiscriminate use of force by the Uzbek security forces and urges the Uzbek authorities to bring those responsible for the massacre in Andijan to trial."

10 June 2005: The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees issues a press release to "express shock at the deportation of four Uzbek men from Kyrgyzstan and urge the Kyrgyz authorities to halt further deportations of Uzbek asylum seekers." In an official statement, Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry emphatically rejects the European Parliament's resolution and alleges that "dozens of foreign citizens took part in the riots that occurred in Andijon."

13 June 2005: EU foreign ministers give Uzbekistan until the end of June to agree to an independent inquiry into violence in Andijon on 13 May or face sanctions, saying they will "keep under review the case for a partial suspension of cooperation mechanisms between the EU and Uzbekistan."

15 June 2005: A U.S. Defense Department spokesman confirms that the Uzbek government has banned nighttime flights and curtailed the use of heavy cargo aircraft at the United States' Karshi-Khanabad air base in Uzbekistan.

16 June 2005: Anvar Nabiev, Uzbekistan's deputy prosecutor-general, announces that 176 people were killed in unrest in Andijon on 13 May. Identifying 79 of those killed as "terrorists," Nabiev says that the "terrorists" seized 65 hostages, killing 14 of them. In subsequent clashes, the "terrorists" killed 20 policemen, 11 soldiers, and 45 ordinary residents. The identities of 21 people who were killed are still being established, Nabiev says. Baitemir Ibraev, a prosecutor in Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Oblast, says that 12 Uzbek asylum seekers who had been serving prison terms in Andijon on charges of religious extremism have been transferred from a camp to a detention facility in Osh.

18 June 2005: Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry denies media reports of a link between restrictions on the U.S. air base at Karshi-Khanabad and the U.S. position on 13 May events in Andijon. "The decision to limit flights by the U.S. Air Force from Karshi-Khanabad was made three months before events in Andijon for certain reasons about which the American side was well-informed," the ministry's statement read. "If one follows the logic of the American media, another conclusion suggests itself: the Andijon events were likely a consequence of Uzbekistan's decision to limit the flights of American aircraft, and not the reason [for it]."

20 June 2005: The OSCE announces that OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel "has reiterated his call for a credible, independent, and international investigation" into events in Andijon. The OSCE issues a report based on eyewitness testimony concluding that "force was used repeatedly against unarmed civilians [in Andijon on 13 May]," and noting that "an estimate based on the information given by refugees would indicate that 300-500 people may have been killed on 13 May."

22 June 2005: Uzbekistan's embassy in Kyrgyzstan announces that the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office has requested the extradition of at least 13 asylum seekers currently housed in a camp in Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Oblast.

28 June 2005 In a telephone interview from an undisclosed location, Qobil Parpiev, a leader in the armed uprising in Andijon on 12-13 May, says: "[Uzbek President] Islam Karimov is accusing us of ties to terrorists, but we deny these accusations. Let an independent commission investigate and give its assessment."

29 June 2005: The U.S. State Department calls on Kyrgyzstan not to extradite any asylum seekers to Uzbekistan.

5 July 2005: The U.S.-based media organization Internews announces that the Uzbek government has filed criminal charges against its staff. In the final declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) summit in Astana, the SCO asks the forces in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan to clarify a time frame for withdrawal from U.S. bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

7 July 2005: Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry announces that it made the air base at Karshi-Khanabad available to U.S. forces in 2001 in order to help remove a threat to Uzbekistan from Afghanistan and for that purpose only. The ministry emphasizes that the United States has made "virtually no payments" to compensate the Uzbek side for expenses associated with operations at the base. Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov says that Kyrgyz authorities have received requests from Uzbek authorities to extradite 231 Uzbek asylum seekers.

11 July 2005: Bahodir Dehqonov, the prosecutor of Uzbekistan's Andijon Province, raises the official death toll from violence in Andijon from 176 to 187. He says that 94 terrorists, 20 law-enforcement officials, 11 soldiers, 57 ordinary residents, and five unidentified individuals died.

13 July 2005: U. S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey warns that U.S. aid to Uzbekistan this year depends on Uzbekistan's response to Washington's call for an independent international investigation into violent unrest in Andijon.

16 July 2005: Uzbekistan's Embassy in Kyrgyzstan issues a statement warning that "the puppeteers who want to destabilize the Ferghana Valley by means of obedient international organizations and NGOs continue to exploit the fallout from the failed plan to bring off an armed coup in Uzbekistan in order to justify their step-by-step imposition of the so-called 'project to advance democracy.'"

18 July 2005: A meeting of EU foreign ministers condemns "the Uzbek authorities' refusal to allow an independent international inquiry into the recent events in [Andijon]."

22 July 2005: Health officials in the Suzak District of Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Oblast temporarily quarantine a camp for more than 400 Uzbek asylum seekers after eight asylum seekers became ill.

27 July 2005: Carlos Zaccagnini, head of the UNHCR mission in Kyrgyzstan, announces the beginning of an operation to transfer 451 Uzbek refugees from a camp in southern Kyrgyzstan to the country's Manas international airport in preparation for transport to a third country. The fate of 29 refugees detained in Osh remains undecided.

29 July 2005: A group of 439 Uzbek refugees arrives in Romania from Kyrgyzstan. Another 15 Uzbeks remain in detention in Osh. Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry informs the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent that the United States has 180 days to vacate the Karshi-Khanabad air base in Uzbekistan. A trip to Uzbekistan by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns is cancelled.

1 August 2005: Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry harshly criticizes the evacuation of 439 Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to Romania as a "violation of all procedures and norms of international law and UN resolutions."

4 August 2005: An Uzbek court finds two local employees of U.S.-based media organization Internews guilty of illegally producing video and print materials but imposes no penalties under a recent amnesty. Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov says that Kyrgyzstan is willing to hand over 15 Uzbek citizens currently detained in Osh to any country that is willing to grant them refugee status and accept them, but he warns they could face deportation to Uzbekistan if no one accepts them.

8 August 2005: Kyrgyz rights advocates state that several hundred unregistered refugees from Uzbekistan who fled violence in Andijon on 12-13 May are currently residing in Kyrgyzstan.

11 August 2005: Igor Rotar, the Central Asia correspondent for the Norway-based religious-freedom organization Forum 18, is detained by Uzbek authorities upon his arrival at Tashkent Airport.

13 August 2005: Uzbek authorities deport Rotar, who, in a subsequent interview, links his deportation to the general crackdown on media in Uzbekistan in the wake of violence in Andijon on 13 May.

19 August 2005: Nikolai Patrushev, director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), tells journalists that the FSB sent personnel to Uzbekistan to aid in the investigation of violence in Andijon on 12-13 May.

20 August 2005: Svetlana Ortiqova, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office in Uzbekistan, describes as "unfounded fabrications" reports that Uzbekistan repatriated four refugees from Kyrgyzstan and subsequently tortured one of them to death. She says that the men voluntarily returned to Uzbekistan, where they are now in pretrial detention.

23 August 2005: The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office accuses the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of defending terrorists. Detailing accusations of narcotics trafficking and religious extremism against four Uzbek citizens currently detained in Kyrgyzstan and calling the previous removal of refugees to Romania a violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention, the Prosecutor-General's Office states, "By defending terrorists and criminals at a time of far-ranging struggle against international terrorism, the UNHCR is damaging the UN's international reputation."

25 August 2005: Svetlana Ortiqova, spokesperson for the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office, warns that the 439 Uzbek refugees recently airlifted to Romania include "terrorists who were involved in attacks on law-enforcement bodies."

26 August 2005: Nosir Zokirov, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, is sentenced to a six-month prison term for slandering a state official.

27 August 2005: Kubanychbek Jusupov, deputy head of the Kyrgyz gas company Kyrgyzgaz, says that Uzbekistan has unilaterally withdrawn from a July agreement on gas shipments to Kyrgyzstan. "On 19 July we signed the agreement," the report quoted Jusupov explains, "But at the end of July, after our government conducted the humanitarian evacuation of 439 refugees to Romania, Tashkent unilaterally annulled the agreement."

31 August 2005: President Karimov calls for "vigilance" and warns that Uzbekistan has been targeted in an "information war." Uzbek gas transport company Uztransgaz denies that it cut off gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan after that country allowed the evacuation of 439 Uzbek refugees to Romania in late July. Uztransgaz describes the decision as a response to previous missed Kyrgyz payments for gas.

2 September 2005: Vitalii Maslovskii, an adviser to the Bishkek office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, says that the governments of Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden have officially agreed to accept 11 of the 15 Uzbek citizens currently detained in Osh.

5 September 2005: The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office presents a report on the violence in Andijon. Calling the violence a "meticulously planned act organized by external destructive forces" and aimed at the creation of an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, the report charges that "as a staging ground for the terrorist acts, the 'stage managers' chose southern Kyrgyzstan, where in January-April 2005 foreign instructors trained some 70 religious extremists in subversive and terrorist methods."

6 September 2005: Acting Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov denies the Uzbek charges, saying: "Nobody was trained by any extremist groups or instructors on the territory of Kyrgyzstan... Therefore the accusations [by Uzbek prosecutors] are baseless. We think that they are trying to blame somebody else for their own bad work."

7 September 2005: The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office issues a statement suggesting that foreign organizations had advance knowledge that violence was going to take place in Andijon in early May. It charges that "representatives of foreign human-rights organizations, media, and international charitable organizations, who had been informed in advance, began to gather in areas that border on Andijon...before events even began, starting on 9-10 May, with some gathering even earlier."

9 September 2005: A civil court in Tashkent orders the U.S.-based media organization Internews to close its office in Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office announces that two investigative operations conducted with the participation of Uzbek authorities failed to uncover evidence that militants used bases in Kyrgyzstan to prepare for violence in Andijon.

12 September 2005: A civil court in Tashkent suspends the activities of U.S.-based exchange organization IREX for six months, arguing that IREX had engaged in activities and pursued goals not covered by the organization's charter.

14 September 2005: Zafar Khakimov, head of the migration department in Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry, announces that 11 Uzbek detainees will soon be transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for subsequent evacuation to a third country. The fate of four detainees remains undecided.

15 September 2005: First Deputy Prosecutor-General Anvar Nabiev briefs journalists in Tashkent on the upcoming 20 September trial of 15 alleged organizers of violence in Andijon, who include three Kyrgyz citizens. Nabiev charges that Kyrgyz authorities had advance knowledge of the attacks and alleges that "correspondents of such media outlets as the BBC, the Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, Ozodlik [RFE/RL's Uzbek Service] and other news agencies, by order from external forces, blatantly and dishonestly circulated biased and slanderous information about the events in foreign mass media..."

16 September 2005: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 16 September airlifts 11 Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to London. Four Uzbek citizens remain in detention in Osh. Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov terms "absurd" Uzbek allegations that terrorists allegedly responsible for violence in Andijon on 12-13 May trained in Kyrgyzstan.