Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting Since 1987

From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

- In Other Media   For further information, click here to contact us         .

Home -For the Media

How to Contact Us

Inner City Press recommends buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

How to Contact Us


Bank Beat/ RSS Feed
Freedom of Information
Human Rights
Current Campaigns
How to Contact Us

Inner City Press Global Inner Cities Report - February 21, 2006

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing?

A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at the UN

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent

  UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 21 – It emerged last week that Ukraine has arrested and deported eleven Uzbeks, at the request of the Prosecutor's Office of Uzbekistan, alleging involvement in the demonstrations in Andijan last May. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva last week issued a press release stating that “UNHCR wrote to the Ukrainian authorities [and] requested access to the detained Uzbeks.” It was unclear if the request was only made to Ukraine, prior to the deportation of the eleven, or whether such a request has been made in Tashkent as well.  On Feb. 20 in Tashkent, Uzbek prosecutors demanded a 12-year sentence for opposition activist Nodira Khidayatova, for “economic crimes.” While Ms. Khidayatova’s trial was ostensibly open to the press, authorities have barred journalists due, they say, to a lack of seats.

            On Feb. 21, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the Secretary-General for an update, as well as contacting UNHCR in New York, and submitting questions in writing to Ukraine’s and Uzbekistan’s permanent missions to the UN. By day’s end, the Secretary-General’s spokesman’s office had provided to Inner City Press a response from UNHCR in Geneva:

“On Friday UNHCR’s office in Tashkent officially sought / requested access to the 11 Uzbek asylum seekers deported from the Ukraine [sic]. We have not had any official response yet.”

    Observers note that there are others who could make inquiries. Last month, Uzbek president Islam Karimov announced that Russia’s Gazprom plans to invest $1.5 billion in gas projects, including exploring seven prospective fields on the seabed of the environmentally-ravaged (and shrinking) Aral Sea. Just last week the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced the completion of the sale of the second largest mobile phone operator in Uzbekistan, UNITEL, to Russia’s Vimpel-Communications for $200 million, noting that “EBRD was the smallest shareholder in the equity consortium selling the company. The others were Germanos SA, the leading Greek retail network of mobile service and equipment centers, and its leading shareholder Mr. Panos Germanos.”  More generally, of Uzbekistan the EBRD's web site states that as "one of the largest foreign investors in the country, the... Bank maintains continuous policy dialogue with the government." (Citation below).

            While as of press time neither the permanent missions to the UN of Ukraine or Uzbekistan had responded to questions, UNHCR from Geneva also replied concerning related events in Kyrgyzstan:

“The Kyrgyz authorities have for the time being not taken (and will probably not for a month) any formal political decision on the fate of the two Uzbek refugees who were not recognized as refugees on Friday… Today the appeal of the two other Uzbek refugees in detention in Kyrgyzstan will be reviewed on the second instance. If the appeal is rejected the cases will go to the Supreme Court.”

            This is a developing story that bears following – not least, for the sake of the eleven Uzbeks deported from Ukraine.

Simferopol, capital of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, to whose detention centre the 11 Uzbek asylum seekers were taken before being deported to Uzbekistan

On the Web: (UNHCR online 2/17/06 statement) (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Uzbekistan page, stating "Being one of the largest foreign investors in the country, the... Bank maintains continuous policy dialogue with the government.")

  * * *

  Also at the UN Headquarters on Feb. 21, there were dueling statements from the United States’ Ambassador John Bolton (speaking, he said, in his capacity as president of the Security Council) and South Africa’s Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo (in his capacity as head of the G-77). Amb. Bolton smirked at the press stake-out and said any country is free to speak at the Security Council’s hearings on corruption in the Peacekeeping procurement systems. Half an hour later, Amb. Kumalo denounced encroachments on the General Assembly’s turf. Several reporters asked why none of the G77 members on the Security Council opposed the encroachment; Amb. Kumalo said he is not privy to the inner workings of the Security Council. Inner City Press asked if, going forward, the G77 members including those on the Security Council would meet and agree to vote the G77 position. “They don’t run on a G77 slate for the Security Council,” Amb. Kumalo concluded. Big times at the United Nations…

A report from last week:

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity;

Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14 – Following the UN Security Council meeting on the status of Kosovo,  the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Soren Jessen Petersen, took brief questions from reporters. He was asked, by Inner City Press, about the status of electricity in Kosovo, in light of reports that some areas are without power for up to 20 hours a day. He and then his spokeswoman said that is not true. The spokeswoman, Marcia Poole, described a system in which “areas” which have a record of slow or no payments for power receive less frequent service that other, “better areas.” Prior to the recent cold weather, the best paying areas, referred to as “A,” received uninterrupted power (“theoretically,” the spokeswoman added). B areas received five hours on, one hour off.  The spokeswoman said proudly that now the A areas have this five on, one off schedule, so that the worst-paying areas, called “C,” now have two hours on, four hours off. So rather than being without electricity for twenty hours a day, the correct figure is sixteen…

   The allocation of electricity that an individual or family receives is not related to the individual’s record of payment, but rather the records of those among whom he or she lives. It is quite literally a form of profiling – a practice that, given the history of Kosovo and the region, one would think should be avoided. It is excused as related to the old wiring system.

            Neither Mr. Jessen Petersen nor his spokeswoman would answer questions about the progress and transparency of the UN-overseen privatization of Kosovar socially-owned enterprises. An early quasi-privatization inside deal involved US AID’s creation of a bank in November 2001, and sale of the institution in 2003 to Raiffeisen Bank. The most recent troubles involve the conditional (and controversial) sale in November 2005 of the Ferronikeli mines to Alferon/IMR, reportedly dominated by oligarch’s elbow-deep in Kazakhstan. Three months later, the $40 million sales price has yet to be paid. The reason given is the Kosovo Energetic Corporation’s offer to Alferon, to let it import its own electric power, has not been accepted. Close observers speculate whether Alferon is in fact angling to buy a chunk of the Kosovar power system, Korporata Energjetike e Kosovës, managed by the Irish company ESBI. Inner City Press will continue to report on this; the response to its questions was a referral to UNMIK Pillar IV in Pristina. Developing…



At the previously scheduled noon press briefing, which Soren Jessen Petersen had been slated to attend, the spokesman for the Secretary General, when asked by Inner City Press about the recently screened video of British soldiers beating Iraqi teenagers, said that such footage is “always disturbing” but that “it is positive that the British government is investigating.”

On the Internet:

Some previous reports:

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia, Even Terror’s Haven

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Halliburton Repays $9 Million, While Iraq’s Oil Remains Unmetered

Darfur on the Margins: Slovenia’s President Drnovsek’s Quixotic Call for Action Ignored

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Royal Bank of Scotland Has Repeatedly Been Linked to Terrorist Finance and Money Laundering, Not Only in the Current Brooklyn Case

From Appalachia to Wall Street: Behind the Mining Tragedy, UBS and Lehman Brothers

Iraqis Absent from Oil Oversight Meeting on Development Fund for Iraq, Purportedly Due to Visa Problems

Watching the Detectives: Oversight of the Development Fund for Iraq Will be Discussed at the UN on December 28, 2005

From the UN Budget, Transit Strike, to the USA Patriot Act, 2005 Ends with Extensions

Some previous highlights and special reports:

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

The United Nations' Year of Microcredit: Questions & No Answers

Older Inner City Press reports are archived on

For more reporting about such topics as banks, predatory lending, consumer protection, money laundering, mergers or the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), click here for Inner City Press's weekly CRA Report. Inner City Press also reports weekly concerning, among other beats, the Federal Reserve, environmental justice, global inner cities, as well as on the United Nations. Follow those links for more of Inner City Press's reporting, or, click here for five ways to contact us, with or for more information.

©opyright 2006 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editors [at] - phone: (718) 716-3540