Tag Archives: crime

Georgian Church fires bishop at centre of ophanage abuse accusations

JUNE 15 2021 (The Bulletin) — After meeting with EU and Georgian government officials, the Georgian Orthodox Church gave way to mounting public pressure by firing the bishop who had run an orphanage at the centre of abuse allegations. The Church appointed Bishop Jakob of Bobde to run the Ninotsminda orphanage which it also said would be renovated and improved.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Church-run orphanage in Georgia accused of abuses

TBILISI/JUNE 5 2021 (The Bulletin) — A court in Georgia accused a bishop of presiding over a sadist regime at a school for disabled orphans that beat and sexually abused children, rare criticism of the Orthodox Church in Georgia where it is held in high esteem.

The court order to remove disabled children from the church-run school will also embarrass the ruling Georgian Dream government which has been criticised for its close ties with the Orthodox Church and for being reluctant to carry out a full investigation at the Ninotsminda Orphanage despite evidence of abuse. 

Four investigations since the orphanage was opened in 2015 have fallen through.

Anna Arganashvili, head of the Partnership for Human Rights NGO which had pushed for the court’s intervention, said: “The court decreed that if children are in danger today, it must be stopped immediately. This is crucial.”

The Georgian Orthodox Church, and Bishop Spiridon Abuladze whose jurisdiction the orphanage falls under, have denied any wrongdoing and appealed the court’s decision to effectively close the school where 57 children had lived.

Media reported that the Ninotsminda Orphanage, 160km southwest of Tbilisi, is one of three orphanages that the Georgian Orthodox Church runs. Online reports quoted children from the school as saying that they had been placed in stress positions, beaten and abused.

In Georgia, with its instinctively traditional culture, the Orthodox Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Analysts have said that an unofficial alliance with the Orthodox Church has been vital to the Georgian Dream’s election successes since 2012. 

Last month the Georgian Dream was one of the only political parties in Georgia not to sign a pledge to protect gay rights, which the Georgian Orthodox Church opposes.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Two Azerbaijani sailors held in Libya return home

JAN. 21 2021 (The Bulletin) — Two Azerbaijani sailors, imprisoned in Libya after the ship that they were working on was detained on smuggling charges in 2016, were released. Elmihan Bagirov, captain of the ship that was owned by a Turkish company and was sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone, and Aliaga Babayev, a sailor, spent five years in a prison in Libya, convicted of smuggling oil products. Another Azerbaijani sailor died in custody.

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— This story was first published in issue 468 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kazakhstan abolishes death penalty after 18-year moratorium

JAN. 2 2021 (The Bulletin) — Kazakhstan formally abolished the death penalty, 18-years after it was suspended. The last person to be sentenced to death in Kazakhstan was Ruslan Kulekbayev, who shot dead eight policemen in 2016. He has been given a life sentence in prison instead.

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— This story was first published in issue 467 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbek court sends Karimova to prison for another 8 years

MARCH 18 (The Bulletin) — A court in Uzbekistan found Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of former Uzbek president Islam Karimov and previously considered the most powerful woman in the country, guilty of corruption that cost the country $2.3b and sentenced her to another eight years in prison. Karimova has been under house arrest and then in prison in Tashkent since 2014 when she was accused of taking bribes from telecoms companies looking to do business in Uzbekistan. In an open letter to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev earlier this year, she had begged to be released from prison. Five other people were also imprisoned alongside Karimova.

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— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Former diplomat jailed for treason in Uzbekistan

JAN. 9 2020 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan jailed Kadyr Yusupov, 67, its former ambassador to Britain and an adviser on Uzbek-Chinese trade, for 5-1/2 years for treason. Human rights activists said that Yusupov had been forced to admit his guilt at a secret trial. The allegations of treason against Yusupov have not been fleshed out. He was arrested in December 2018, a few days after allegedly jumping in front of a train on the Tashkent metro.

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— This story was first published in issue 433 of the weekly Bulletin on Jan. 13 2020

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Armenian police investigate baby-selling ring

DEC. 26 2019 (The Bulletin) — Police in Armenia have arrested Razmik Abramyan, the country’s chief obstetrician-gynaecologist and other senior officials as part of an investigation into the alleged sale of babies, the AFP news agency reported. Mr Abramyan is accused of pressuring women into giving up their babies which were then sold on for adoption. He has denied the claims.

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— This story was first published in issue 432 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 27 2019

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Kyrgyz feminist exhibition organiser quits after death threats

BISHKEK/Dec. 3 (The Bulletin) –Mira Dzhangaracheva, the director of Kyrgyzstan’s National Museum of Fine Arts, said that she had resigned her position after receiving deaths threats links to a feminist exhibition.

The exhibition, called Feminale, which has been shown in the museum since Nov. 28, has shocked most ordinary Kyrgyz. Dedicated to the 17 Kyrgyz migrant women workers who died in a fire in 2016 at the Moscow printing house they were working in, the exhibition’s organisers said that their mission was to promote women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan’s staunchly macho and conservative society.

Exhibits included a boxing punch bag shaped like the torso of a woman, a Danish performance artist wandering around a room naked and various references to nudity.

But while the show has earned praise from Bishkek’s younger, liberal-minded millennials, it has also generated criticism. Delegations of Kyrgyz elders have visited government offices to demand that the show is closed. Employees of the museum and artists, including Ms Dzhangaracheva, said that they have received death threats.

The government stepped in and removed some of the more provocative exhibits, the ones it said showed “nude women in a temple of art”.

Now, Ms Dzhangaracheva , the National Fine Art Museum director, has said that it is safer for her to quit rather than try to see off the conservatives who she said have stymied artistic expression in Kyrgyzstan.

“Over the past five days there have been so many threats to me personally and my employees and to the organisers of this Feminale that I worry about our people,” she told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website in an interview.

Women, gay and minorities’ rights in Kyrgyzstan have been worsening according to activists.
Human Rights Watch said of the government’s decision to block part of the Feminale exhibition: “Rather than limiting public access to thought-provoking art, the Kyrgyz government should protect its creators against threats of violence and support freedom of expression, including about women’s rights.”
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— This story was first published in issue 431 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 9 2019

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Kazakh city mayor sacked after rape of schoolgirl

NOV. 22 (The Bulletin) — Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked the mayor of Taraz, a town of 350,000 people in the south of the country, after a 12-year-old girl was raped in the latrine of her school. The rape sparked outrage in Taraz at the lack of care and oversight at the school. Reuters reported that 30% of schools in Kazakhstan still use outdoor latrines.
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— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.