10 September 2003
Memorial Says Russian Security Service Detained Turkmen Diplomats4 September 2003
The Moscow-based human rights organization Memorial has issued a report asserting that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained several Turkmen diplomats in Moscow on 17 August for allegedly engaging in activities not compatible with their diplomatic status, centrasia.ru reported on 4 September.
An FSB spokesman was quoted as saying the detained officials included the first secretary of the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow, a representative of the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, and an official of the Turkmen National Security Ministry who was allegedly sent to Moscow to undertake actions against the Turkmen opposition. The detainees have been released, but eight employees of the Turkmen Embassy in Moscow were expelled from the country.
Memorial interpreted the FSB's action as an indication that the Russian special services are no longer willing to close their eyes to the operations of the Turkmen security service on Russian soil. (centrasia.ru)
Father Of Turkmen Human Rights Activist Sent Into Internal Exile4 September 2003
The father of exiled Turkmen human rights activist Tajigul Begmedova was arrested in Ashgabat on 31 August and sent into internal exile in the northern Turkmen town of Dashoguz, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on 4 September.
Last month, Begmedova announced the creation in Sofia, Bulgaria, of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation. HRW took note of the fact that the forcible expulsion of 77-year-old Sazak Begmedov from his Ashgabat home took place just 12 days after his daughter announced the creation of the Turkmen Helsinki group.
The Bulgarian authorities have refused a demand from Turkmenistan that they return Tajigul Begmedova and her husband, Anadurdy Hajiev, to Ashgabat, asserting that the Turkmen accusations against them are politically motivated. (HRW)
Turkmenistan To Supply Electricity To Iran4 September 2003
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Iranian Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf on 4 September signed a contract for the supply of Turkmen electricity to Iran and an intergovernmental memorandum on long-term cooperation of the two countries in the area of electricity, ITAR-TASS reported.
"Turkmenistan generously shares its wealth -- gas and electricity -- with its neighbors," Niyazov said at the signing ceremony. He recalled that Turkmen power engineers are successfully implementing the long-term agreement on the construction of a number of electricity-transmission lines to Afghanistan.
"The newly signed contract with Turkmenistan envisages the implementation by both sides of certain volume of work to link their energy systems in three points on the border -- Meshed, Serahs, and Gonbad," Bitaraf said. "When electricity-transmission lines on the border go into operation, the capacity of Turkmen energy supplies will reach 700 megawatts."
According to Turkmen Energy Ministry, 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity will cost $0.02 under the contract with Iran. Turkmenistan will supply $48 million in electricity to Iran annually. Iran will pay for half of the energy in hard currency and half in electrical-engineering equipment. (ITAR-TASS)
Moscow Criticizes Turkmenistan For Hindering Ethnic Russians' Ties With Russia3 September 2003
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Yeleonora Mitrofanova has criticized the Turkmen authorities for hindering ties between ethnic Russians living in Turkmenistan and Russia, Interfax reported on 3 September.
"Unfortunately, the Turkmen authorities have a negative attitude toward close contacts by their Russian-speaking citizens with Russia," Mitrofanova said in an interview published by "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 3 September.
Around 60 people attended a recent meeting of Russians living in Central Asia, but nobody arrived from Turkmenistan, she noted. "They were reportedly intimidated by various sanctions, including dismissal. Although [Turkmen President] Niyazov said the right words...the real situation is different," she noted.
Mitrofanova expressed the hope that Russia will not have to enforce economic sanctions against other countries of the former USSR in light of their attitude toward their Russian-speaking population. "Russia has not resorted to [sanctions], and I hope it won't have to do so in relation to countries with which we still have serious" differences on human rights, she said. (Interfax, "Rossiiskaya gazeta")
Turkmen Justice Ministry Renamed2 September 2003
Turkmen President Niyazov announced at a 1 September cabinet meeting that he is renaming the Justice Ministry and appointing a new minister, turkmenistan.ru and Interfax reported on 2 September.
The new name, Adalat ministrligy, using the Turkic word for justice instead of the international term, is meant to convey fairness, honor, and order, in addition to strict justice, Niyazov said. He said the renamed ministry will be given additional responsibilities, including carrying out an inventory of all property -- both state-owned and private -- in the country and checking on how it is being used. It is also supposed to assume responsibility for lawyers, notaries, and civil-registration offices.
Taganmyrat Gochyev was appointed minister. Gochyev has been running the Justice Ministry for the last six months as first deputy minister. The post of justice minister has been vacant for more than three years. (turkmenistan.ru, Interfax)
Turkmenistan Forms State Commission To Fight Terrorism2 September 2003
A State Antiterrorism Commission was formed during an expanded session of Turkmenistan's cabinet of ministers on 1 September, turkmenistan.ru reported on 2 September.
Creation of the commission was approved at the session of the People's Assembly on 15 August. Its main function is to coordinate the antiterrorism activities of various state agencies. The commission's membership includes the president, the cabinet, and the heads of law enforcement agencies and local administrations.
Niyazov also used the cabinet meeting, which was devoted primarily to agricultural issues such as increasing the country's cotton crop, to blast state television for duplication and a lack of creativity. He noted that despite his frequent criticism, state television has failed to improve. (turkmenistan.ru)