Tuesday 1 March 2005
February 28, 2005
World: U.S. Human Rights Report Highlights China, North Korea
Every year, the U.S. State Department publishes a report on the state of human rights around the world. This year's account, issued today, expresses concern about what it calls a lack of democratic reform in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. But on the whole, the document is one of hope, according to one State Department official who cited a growing trend toward democratic reform.
February 25, 2005
South/Central Asia: Women Dying In Childbirth At High Rate
Afghan refugees receiving medical care (file photo) Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries. It is estimated that more than 500,000 women die each year from such causes, mainly in Africa and Asia. RFE/RL reports that the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia is also bad.
February 23, 2005
Analysis: Central Asia Provides Window On Russia-U.S. Relations
When U.S. President George Bush meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Bratislava on 24 February, Central Asia will not be an agenda-topping item. But as a region where U.S. and Russian interests intersect, Central Asia provides a window on the dynamics that dominate the two countries' uneasy relationship in the former Soviet Union.
February 23, 2005
Central Asia: Sport Program Ending, But Legacy Remains
After three hectic years, a U.S.-financed initiative to involve Central Asian young people in healthy team sports is coming to an end. The Central Asia Sport and Health Education Program has brought some 22,000 school pupils, both boys and girls, into contact with such games as soccer (eds: football), volleyball and basketball. The scheme was designed to give a constructive leisure time activity to young people who might otherwise fall into crime or other difficulties.
February 22, 2005
Analysis: Uzbek Eminence Falls From Grace
Critical articles in Uzbekistan's timid official press are sufficiently rare that their appearance generally sparks speculation in the grand old spirit of what used to be called Kremlinology, with observers eagerly teasing out hints of hidden power struggles and coded references to coming policy changes.
February 18, 2005
Uzbekistan: Interview With Former British Ambassador Craig Murray
Prague, 18 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Craig Murray may be one of Britain's least diplomatic diplomats in recent memory. While ambassador to Tashkent, he spoke publicly about repression and the lack of democratic freedoms in Uzbekistan. Last year he accused the United States and United Kingdom of using intelligence gained from people tortured in Uzbekistan. And in a widely published speech in November, he criticized the United States for helping prop up what he called President Islam Karimov's "brutal" regime. Murray was suspended from his post in October 2004 and has now taken severance pay -- moves the British Foreign Office has said are not connected with his outspoken views. He now plans to run against British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Britain's Parliamentary election, expected in May.
February 18, 2005
Uzbekistan: Britain's Former Envoy Speaks Out About Rights Abuses
Two years ago, Britain's ambassador to Uzbekistan made headlines when he spoke out publicly about Tashkent's poor human rights record. Craig Murray had harsh words, too, for the United States, saying it was helping prop up a brutal regime. Murray was suspended from his post in October 2004 and has now taken severance pay -- moves the British Foreign Office has said are not connected with his outspoken views. He spoke to RFE/RL about his experiences -- and his future plans.
February 17, 2005
Kyrgyzstan: Women Say Their Opportunities Are Shrinking Ahead Of Polls
Observers say women in Kyrgyzstan have traditionally enjoyed more freedom than those in neighboring Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. Post-Soviet independence brought them even more rights and opportunities. Although ordinary Kyrgyz are still reluctant to see a woman rise to prominence in either politics or business, Kyrgyzstan is the first post-independence Central Asian state to have appointed a woman as a foreign minister and ambassador. But recent amendments to the country's electoral law means women may have little chance of being elected in this month's parliamentary ballot.
February 11, 2005
Central Asia: New Report Warns Of Social Cost Of Region's Reliance On Cotton
For decades, cotton production has been the main economic activity in Uzbekistan -- and, to a lesser extent, in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. But the sharp decline in world prices for raw cotton fiber is now posing a considerable economic challenge for the Central Asian states. The International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization focused on conflict prevention, warns in a new report that continued reliance on cotton will pose social, political, and environmental risks in the region. The report says cotton economies lead to forced labor, environmental waste, and the potential for social unrest.
February 08, 2005
Uzbekistan: Can New Governments Bring Any Change?
The newly formed Uzbek government held its first meeting yesterday. Last week's overhaul of the cabinet included the replacement of the foreign and justice ministers. Does the appointment of a new foreign minister mean Uzbekistan is changing its relations with the outside world? And are cabinet changes really significant in a country where all major decisions -- on both internal and foreign policy -- remain in the hands of the president, Islam Karimov?