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Turkmen Report: December 29, 2003

29 December 2003
Turkmenistan Sends Relief To Iran
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov ordered the allocation of $100,000 for Iran, hit by a disastrous earthquake, and other relief to the neighboring country, Interfax reported on 27 December, citing the Turkmen Foreign Ministry. The ministry said the aid had already gone to Iran. In a telephone call on 27 December with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Niyazov "expressed deep condolences on behalf of the entire Turkmen people and on his own behalf" over the earthquake, a source in the Turkmen president's office said. Niyazov and Khatami expressed satisfaction with the state of Turkmen-Iranian relations, especially economic ties between the two countries. They said Turkmen-Iranian trade had grown noticeably, including via stable exports of Turkmen oil, natural gas, and electricity to Iran. The source said the two presidents had decided to kickstart Turkmen-Iranian dialogue and to hold a summit soon for this purpose. During the summit, "measures will be agreed for the further strengthening and expansion of bilateral cooperation, work will be continued to agree shared approaches to the settlement of the Caspian problem, and a number of other issues of mutual interest will be considered." Khatami is expected to visit Turkmenistan soon. The dates for the visit have not yet been set. (Interfax)

Turkmen Embassy In Moscow Calls On Russian Government To Ensure Security
The Turkmen Embassy in Moscow on 26 December sent a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry complaining about the vandalism of embassy grounds and demanding better security for embassy staff, AP reported the same day. Unidentified vandals threw bottles of black paint at the embassy on 25 December. The Turkmen Embassy in its note to the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was not the first time this year there had been quote "an attack" on the embassy building. The Turkmen Embassy demanded those responsible for the incident be caught and punished. Interfax reported that the National Bolshevik Party claimed responsibility for the paint bottle incident as a protest against the treatment of Russians in Turkmenistan. Since last year's reported assassination attempt on Niyazov, Turkmenistan has introduced a number of new restrictions. Among them was Turkmenistan's unilateral cancellation of a dual citizenship agreement with Russia, which has led thousands of ethnic Russians in Turkmenistan to seek a quick return to Russia. (AP, Interfax)

China Issues Interest-Free Loan For Turkmen Gas Sector Development
China has provided an interest-free loan and grant to Turkmenistan to boost the development of its natural-gas industry, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 December. Yelly Kurbanmuradov, Turkmenistan's deputy prime minister in charge of the country's oil and gas sector, and Chinese Ambassador to Turkmenistan Lu Guisheng met in Ashgabat on 26 December to sign two intergovernmental agreements -- one on the 30 million yuan ($3.6 million) interest-free loan and the other on the provision of the 15 million yuan grant to Turkmenistan. The total sum of the resources Turkmenistan is due to receive amounts to $5.5 million. "For China, the oil-and-gas sector of Turkmenistan is a priority direction of cooperation," the ambassador said. Lu Guisheng recalled, "In 1998 and 2000, China allocated 100 million yuans in loans to Turkmenistan to finance the purchase of Chinese drilling and hoist equipment for the Turkmenneft and Turkmengas state-owned enterprises." This year's funds will pay for the delivery of this equipment and spare parts to the services of the natural gas industry of Turkmenistan, he said. According to Turkmenistan's Oil and Gas Ministry, over the past five years, the value of the services and equipment provided by the Chinese oil-and-gas companies to Turkmenistan has totaled $293 million. (ITAR-TASS)

UN General Assembly Cites Serious Rights Violations In Turkmenistan
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution calling on Turkmenistan to end what it calls "serious and continuing human rights violations" in the country, RFE/RL reported on 23 December. The assembly late on 22 December approved the measure by a vote of 73 to 40, with 56 abstentions. The main supporters of the measure were European states. Russia also voted in favor of the resolution although it normally votes against efforts to single out states for rights abuses. The measure was opposed by China and mostly Islamic states. Such measures are not binding but carry symbolic importance. The resolution urges compliance with the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Commission on ending abuses, particularly religious and political repression. The abuses are linked to a crackdown that followed the alleged assassination attempt on President Niyazov one year ago. The resolution does take note of the Turkmen government's recent contact with UN and OSCE experts but said the government still must take significant steps to improve the rights situation. (RFE/RL)

U.S. Citizen Denies Writing Book On Niyazov Assassination Attempt
The editorial office of the Internet newspaper received a letter from Leonid Komarovsky, a U.S. citizen, in which he says that he does not consider himself to be the author of the book, "The Terrorist Act In Ashgabat: The Truth About The Assassination Attempt On The Turkmen President On 25 November 2002," published by the Rukh publishing house in Ashgabat purportedly in his name, reported on 19 December. According to Komarovsky, he was "involved in creating two 'books': one with a story narrated by the Turkmen Prosecutor-General's Office about the events of 25 November, and another about Turkmenistan, its history, and the present day." However, "I have given no rights to anybody to publish any book using my name. I determinedly reject what Rukh has published. I demand that my name be immediately removed from the aforementioned book," Komarovsky wrote. The representatives of the Rukh publishing house have not yet officially commented on the statement. (