Tag Archives: protest

Georgian priests and rightwing party promise to disrupt Gay Pride

JUNE 16 2021 (The Bulletin) — Georgian priests and leaders of the right-wing political party Unity, Essence, Hope promised to disrupt a Gay Pride march planned for the start of July. They have said that homosexuality runs against Georgian traditions and the march should be banned. Previous Gay Pride marches have been attacked by opponents of gay rights. 

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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

Georgian PM says he wants new terms on controversial dam

TBILISI/JUNE 9 2021 (The Bulletin) — After months of protests, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that he wanted to renegotiate the terms that Turkish construction company Enka and Norway’s Clean Energy Group were given to build and run the Namakhavani Hydropower Plant in the Rioni Valley in the west of the country. 

Protesters have said that the project, slated to be Georgia’s biggest hydropower plant, damages the countryside and is too lenient towards the foreign investors. The government has said that the Namakhavani Hydropower Plant is vital for its future energy generation projects as it will boost energy production by 15% and must go ahead.

Protesters have blocked access to the site for the past seven months and staged rallies in both Kutaisi and Tbilisi which have attracted thousands of people. Police have made several arrests at some of the protests in the Rioni Valley after clashes with demonstrators.

Enka Renewables, in which Enka owns a 90% stake and Clean Energy Groups owns a 10% stake, signed an $800m deal to build and run the Namakhavani hydropower plant with Georgia in April 2019. 

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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

Georgia suspends controversial hydro-dam project

TBILISI/MARCH 12 (The Bulletin) — Apparently bowing to pressure from environmentalists and local residents, the Georgian government suspended work on the construction of its Namakhvani Hydro Power Project. 

Natia Turneva, the Georgian economy minister, said that the project had been suspended to allow for extra studies on the “reliability and safety” of the project. 

“This is a very important large hydropower plant with an installed capacity of 430 MW. It will bring in $800 million in foreign direct investments,” she said.

This is the line that the government has consistently taken with the project, one of the most controversial energy projects in Georgia.

Police and demonstrators have clashed near the construction site of the Namakhvani HPP on the Rioni River in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains. It is slated to be the largest power plant in Georgia when it is complete, generating 15% of Georgia’s energy.

Ms Turneva said that Georgian experts and institutions would be hired to carry out independent surveys of the impact of the dam on the environment and on local communities and that a $1.5m Rioni Gorge Development Fund would be set up to help people relocate.

The hydropower project, which is being developed in two parts — a Lower Namakhvani HPP (333 MW) and the Upper Namakhvani HPP (100 MW) — is being financed by international donors, including the Norway-based Clean Energy Group, and is being constructed by Enka, Turkey’s largest construction company.

Protesters, who complain about the environmental damage and the forced resettling of people from the area, have blocked access to the site for more than four months. They said that the government couldn’t suspend the project as construction work had not started yet.

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Activists try to block Armenian parliament

MARCH 10 (The Bulletin) — Opposition activists in Armenia scuffled with police as they tried to block parliament and the country’s top generals called for PM Nikol Pashinyan to resign after he once again tried to sack Armenia’s most senior soldier. Last month, Mr Pashinyan said that he was facing a military coup after General Onik Gasparian called for him to resign. He then tried to sack Gen. Gasparian, although Armenian Pres.  Armen Sarksian refused to sign off on the order. The Army and Mr Pashinyan blame each other for losing a war against Azerbaijan.

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Women in region march against violence

MARCH 8 (The Bulletin) — Women in Central Asia and the South Caucasus’ biggest cities marched in protests against domestic violence on International Women’s Day. The region, known for its unreformed macho overtones, has one of the worst records in the world for domestic violence. Activists have said the coronavirus lockdowns have exacerbated the issue. Last year the women’s rights march in Bishkek was attacked by masked men. This year it passed off without incident.

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Anti-coronavirus curfew protests continue in Georgia

MARCH 6 (The Bulletin) — Although some bars and restaurants have now been allowed to reopen, there were more protests in Georgia against the government’s anti-coronavirus 9pm – 5am curfew. Georgia has seen some of the most dogged protests against its government’s coronavirus restrictions. 

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Police in Almaty detain demonstrators

FEB. 28 2021  (The Bulletin) — Police in Almaty detained dozens of protesters who had been calling for the release of political prisoners in the largest anti-government demonstrations in Kazakhstan this year. In what has become fairly standard practice in Kazakhstan, police stopped protesters gathering in city centre squares and parks and detained leaders en route to the meetings. Activists have said that the right to protest barely exists in Kazakhstan.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kazakh authorities clamp down on anti-China protests

ALMATY/FEB. 10 2021 (The Bulletin) —  Apparently unconcerned by hardening language from the West towards Beijing and its treatment of ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs, the authorities in Kazakhstan jailed a man for protesting outside the Chinese consulate in Almaty. 

Media reported that police detained Baibolat Kunbolatuly, who was part of a 10-person protest mainly of women holding photos of missing sons, brothers and husbands outside the consulate the day before, and that a court then efficiently sentenced him to 10 days in jail for breaking rules around mass gatherings. In Kazakhstan, protests require written permission from the authorities.

Mr Kunbolatuly had been protesting against the disappearance of his brother in China, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. He suspects that his brother is being held in one of China’s, by now notorious, re-education camps which have been built in Xinjiang province over the past four years to hold hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

China has said that the camps are education-focused and that they are designed to help ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs improve themselves. Human rights groups have called them prisons, a view Western governments are coming round to. 

In Kazakhstan, reporting on the camps in Xinjiang has been minimal but protests against China and its actions in Xinjiang are becoming more widespread.

The issue of China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is a thorny issue for the Kazakh government. 

It is reliant on Chinese cash to fund various infrastructure projects and China is also a major stakeholder in Kazakh industry. The flipside is that there are an estimated 200,000 ethnic Kazakhs living in Xinjiang and a large ethnic Uyghur population living in Kazakhstan.

And, embarrassingly for Kazakh officials, the major information leaks from Xinjiang over the past few years have also come from Kazakhs escaping over the border into Kazakhstan. They now want to prove to their Chinese counterparts that they are reliable partners.

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— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Hundreds of people protest in Tbilisi and Batumi against coronavirus curfew

FEB. 7 2021 (The Bulletin) — Hundreds of people in Tbilisi and Batumi protested against a curfew imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The curfew comes into force each night at 9pm and is lifted at 5am. Anybody out on the streets during this time is fined. Georgia has seen some of the most well-supported anti-lockdown protests in the FSU.

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— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Police in Georgia arrest anti-government protesters

JAN. 16 2021 (The Bulletin) — Police in Tbilisi arrested nine people during a protest outside the building hosting a party conference by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition. Scuffles broke out after police tried to stop demonstrators unfurling a banner accusing the Georgian Dream of stealing a parliamentary election last year. Opposition groups in Georgia have refused to take their seats in parliament and have promised to continue protests.

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021