Europe and refugees

source: rfel.org, Humanity in Action, European Commissioner of Human Rights

Chechen woman in Grozny Chechnya 1994 war civilian victims Russia

After the second Chechen war, the number of Chechen refugees in Europe sky-rocketed. Dozens of thousands of Chechens fleeing the war found refuge in Europe, where they were easily accepted. However, in 2003 a new regulation was introduced by the European Union – called Dublin II Regulation, according to which asylum seekers are heavily restricted once they enter Europe (European Union) borders. The tricky regulation forbids them to apply for refugee status in any other country than the first one they entered – which in most cases is a Southern or Eastern European country (considering that refugees arrive from Africa, the Middle East and Russia).

 

Lack of EU solidarity

Countries situated at the EU border have been strangled by asylum seekers trying to find their way into Europe. They found themselves flooded with asylum requests, and automatically with an obligation to provide for them. Countries directly affected are Poland (in the case of Chechen asylum seekers), Italy, Spain and Greece – countries which are already struggling with economic issues. The repercusions were felt directly by both host countries and by the refugees themselves.

No appropriate financial or material support was offered once they were given this legal responsibility. The principle of EU solidarity was overlooked when considering that additional legal obligations thrown on certain countries should also imply financial  support from all EU member countries.

Children play outside an asylum-seekers' center in Bialystok.

Children play outside an asylum-seekers’ center

Refugees have been neglected since and the number of deportations has risen once the EU border countries found themselves unable to handle the growing number of refugees from war-torn countries. The number of asylum requests rejections has grown not only on the border, but also within Western European countries. Norway was criticized for its abuses during the deportation process –  Norway To Asylum Seekers: Go Home.

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Chechen refugees

There are 2 types of refugees: those who escape oppression and violence in their native land and are genuinely afraid for their safety, and those who simply seek a better life.

According to international law, a country has the obligation to accept asylum requests when there is proof that a person fears torture or death in their native country (war, political oppression etc).

After the end of the second Chechen war, Russia has gone to great lengths to convince the rest of the world that violence has subsided and peace was fully restored in Chechnya. It went as far as trying to convince refugees to return to Chechnya, and even blocking the access of those trying to flee.

Read more – Russia blocks Chechen refugees (BBC)

Forced Return of Displaced People to Chechnya (Human Rights Watch)

Chechen refugees 02

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Chechen refugees in a formely chicken factory camp. The conflict in Chechnya has forced some 30,000 people, the majority of them women and children to flee their homes. Many are living in camps that are overcrowded and in sanitary (source: DJIGIT).

Chechen refugees 03

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Chechen refugees in a formely chicken factory camp. The conflict in Chechnya has forced some 30,000 people, the majority of them women and children to flee their homes. Many are living in camps that are overcrowded and in sanitary (source: DJIGIT).

However, Human Rights organizations have continuously pressed the alarms on human rights violations such as kidnapping (forced disappearances), illegal detention, torture and murder of thousands of civilians since the end of the war.

To read on human rights issues, click the following links 

Chechnya today – “worse than war”

Missing in North Caucasus,

Cleansing operations,

Journalism in N. Caucasus – executions and censorship .

Photo report on Chechen refugees in Poland

Copyright: Swen Connrad / YumeVision

Chechen woman, use to be a lawyer before, in Chechnya, alone, with her two children, outside the URiC Moszna Center. On the background – the former Moszna Workers’ Hotel, rented by URiC for the Center of Asylum Seekers

URiC (Office for Repatriation and Aliens) Moszna Center, Poland – Chechen woman with the picture of her parents in Chechnya. She paid $ 5000 to liberate her husband from jail. He was killed soon after by Russian army force. She came to Poland pregnant, with 3 children – 8, 10, 14 years old. She lost the fourth one on the way to a safer land. For security reasons, the face of the adult asylum seeker is not shown and the name has been changed. © Swen Connrad / YumeVision

 

URiC Wola Center in Warsaw, Poland – Chechen man with his sejjadeh (pray carpet), his Muslim rosary and a picture of his four brothers killed by the Russian army. The youngest was 18. Those three objects are the only reminder from Chechnya he managed to save. For security reasons, the face and real name are not shown. © Swen Connrad / YumeVision

 

Chechen Man with a picture of his house in Grozny, destroyed by Russian bombing in 1999. He succeed to survive 10 years of Chechen war, but in September 2005 Russian forces visited him at his place, threatening him and his family life. They arrived in URiC Wola Center in Warsaw in the mid-October. © Swen Connrad / YumeVision

Chechen Man with his 5-years old daughter. He use to live in the bombed house in Grozny for 6 years together with is wife, daughter and aunt. He succeed to survive over 10 years of Chechen war, but in September 2005 the raids of Russian forces put him on a flight to Poland. They arrived in URiC Wola Center in Warsaw in the middle of October. © Swen Connrad / YumeVision

 

A mother holding the picture of her husband, killed at the age of 36 by Russian forces. When her oldest son turned 15, she decided to run away in order to protect her family. In Chechnya, boys from the age of 16 disappear daily, detained by Russian forces. © Swen Connrad / YumeVision

 

Chechen man with a picture of his brother, killed by Russian force at the age of 34. In the background, his daughter in the URiC Radom centre.

Young Chechen boy, praying at the midday Ramadan pray, in the former workers hotel room transformed into a mosque at the URiC Bielany refugee centre

Polish doctor checking a 5 months old chechen baby in the medical clinic of the URiC Bielany Refugee Centre, in Poland

Meeting of Chechens in the Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, built at Stalin’s order 50 years ago. The Man talking is Usman Ferzauli, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, who lives in exile in Denmark. The man next to him right is Ali Ramzan Ampukayev, Poland Representative of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI). Second from the right is Adam Borowski, the Head of the Poland-Chechnya Committee. Others present are Polish sympathizers, NGO workers, lawyers, journalists. Three portraits of Chechen presidents are standing on the wall: Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, Dzhokhar Dudayev, Aslan Maskhadov.

 

A classroom made up of 2 boys and 5 girls who are learning polish language in URiC Radom center.

 

Piotr Bystrianin, coordinator at the Ocalenie Foundation, a Polish-based nongovernmental organization:

“We are just losing time and money,” he says, “and these people are losing their lives.”

Under the European Union’s Dublin Regulation, the first EU country of entry is responsible for evaluating the claims of an asylum seeker. For Chechens, whose route typically takes them north to Moscow and then west through Belarus, this usually means Poland.

 

The deportation machine in Europe

 

The French office of the Education Without Borders Network (Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières) has initiated a petition for the Dzhanaralievs, a Chechen family that is facing deportation from France to Poland, the first EU member country that they entered after fleeing the Russian backed oppression that is rampant in their native Chechnya. France’s decision is in accordance with the Dublin II Regulation, a piece of legislation from 2003 that claims to prevent refugees from being shipped around Europe but in reality, is a protection for EU member states against “asylum shopping.”

 

According to the EU, the Dublin II Regulation:

establishes the principle that only one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The objective is to avoid asylum seekers from being sent from one country to another, and also to prevent abuse of the system by the submission of several applications for asylum by one person.

The regulation has been criticized, namely by Thomas Hammarberg, the Swedish diplomat and former Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg:

This has not been successful in practice. Countries such as Greece and Malta have, during recent years, been unable to provide adequate protection because the numbers of asylum seekers have exceeded their capacity. This is simply not fair and has, in extreme cases, even put lives at risk. It is now high time to revise the Dublin Regulation.

States in northern Europe, far from the borders in the south and the east, have so far not been co-operative in discussions about resolving this mess. In fact, they have not even been willing to use the possibility under the ‘sovereignty clause’ of the present regulation to avoid transfers to Greece, whose asylum system is clearly experiencing a total collapse.

 

Europe as a whole is not overburdened by asylum applications, at least not in comparison with other parts of the world. In 2009, South Africa alone received almost as many asylum requests as all 27 EU members put together. Some countries in Asia and the Middle East have received even more.

 

Discrimination

After the Boston Marathon bombings in April, allegedly perpetrated by two ethnic Chechens living in the United States, a rumor spread in the North Caucasus that a fearful Europe would soon shut its doors to Chechens.

While the rumor was unfounded and the borders have not closed, the attacks did focus unwanted attention on the Chechen community.

“Some of our politicians try to connect the question of Chechen refugees to terrorism,” says Bernd Mesovic, deputy managing director of Pro Asyl, a Frankfurt-based NGO that advocates for migrants. “Some of them believe the information given by Russian officials, who are always connecting Chechens with terrorism.”

The same is often true of the German media.

“Terrorists Seek Asylum In Germany” read an August 8 headline in the German daily “Die Welt,” which connected the sudden increase with a call by leading Chechen militant Doku Umarov to plan attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Of the applicants in Germany this year, 82 people have been granted refugee status and 702 have been scheduled for deportation. You can’t just leave [Poland for Germany]. OK, you can get there, but then they’ll just deport you back to Poland,” says Imram Shaptukaev a Chechen refugee.

 

Imran Shaptukaev spent nine months in Germany with his ailing wife before authorities rejected their asylum request.

 Imran Shaptukaev spent nine months in Germany with his ailing wife before authorities rejected their asylum request

Despite the circumstances, they say the worst-case scenario would be deportation back to Russia.

 

Seeking a better life

Another type of refugees are not necessarily those seeking protection, but simply those seeking a better life. The following article analyzes a few stories: some talk about looking for better medical care, others about being sent back to Poland after reaching western Europe and finding a comfortable life.

The most difficult thing for Polish authorities is not only having the sole responsibility of dealing with the refugees, but also having to deal with the negative attitude. Discrimination takes place not only from host countries towards refugees, but also from refugees towards host countries. Many Chechens are convinced that Dublin II is a simply a Polish concept, and that it is Poland which seeks their return from other EU countries. Such misunderstandings, false beliefs and ungrounded suspicions add to tensions between asylum seekers and Polish social welfare staff.

Read more here For Chechens, Poland is not west enough (UNCHR)

Refugees in Austria

Human Rights NGO’s decapitated by Kremlin

https://i2.wp.com/www.davidicke.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/legacy_images/stories/July20126/767dbd7b7b8dc3f745f05caf50be6242.jpg

 

source: HWR

 Russia: “Foreign Agents” Law Hits Hundreds of NGOs

(foreign agent = spy in Russian vocabulary)

In early March 2013 the Russian government launched an unprecedented, nationwide campaign of inspections of thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify advocacy groups the government deems “foreign agents” and force them to register as such. The list below tracks the legal consequences of the law on dozens of NGOs.

Since the beginning of the “foreign agents” campaign, the Ministry of Justice filed 9 administrative cases against NGOs and 5 administrative cases against NGO leaders for failure to register under the “foreign agents” law.

The Ministry of Justice ordered the two NGOs against which it had filed administrative cases (both Golos groups) to suspend their activities for several months.

The prosecutors also filed at least 13 administrative cases against NGOs for refusing to provide documents during the inspection campaign and lost four of them (against the Foundation for Development of Modern Civil Society Institutions in Lipetsk, “Petersburg Aegis” in St. Petersburg and two against the Rainbow Foundation in Moscow).

On May 23 the State Duma adopted new amendments which allow Ministry of Justice to register independent groups as “foreign agents” without their consent.  On May 28 the Council of Federation endorsed the amendments. On June 4, 2014 President Putin signed the amendments into law.

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Moscow Blacklists Russian NGO Office That Announced Soldiers’ Deaths In Ukraine

 

source: rferl.org

Russia’s Justice Ministry has placed the Saint Petersburg branch of the Soldiers’ Mothers rights group on a blacklist of NGO’s acting as “foreign agents.”

The moves comes a day after Ella Polyakova and Sergei Krivenko, two members of the Russian presidential human rights council, announced more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed in eastern Ukraine on August 13 near Snizhnye while helping pro-Russian separatists fight Ukrainian troops.

Polyakova heads the Soldiers’ Mothers branch in Saint Petersburg.

The Justice Ministry placed the office on the blacklist under a controversial 2012 law requiring many NGOs which receive funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents.”

Under the law, every public statement must be accompanied by a notice that the speaker represents “an organization fulfilling the functions of a foreign agent.”

Russian denies its soldiers are fighting in Ukraine.

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Russia: A year on, Putin’s ‘foreign agents law’ choking freedom

Amnesty International report

The “foreign agents law” is part of a raft of repressive legislation brought in since Putin’s return to the presidency.

The “foreign agents law” is part of a raft of repressive legislation brought in since Putin’s return to the presidency

A restrictive “foreign agents law” adopted a year ago is choking independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia, Amnesty International said today.

“One year after came into force, the record of the foreign agents law is a grim one. More than a thousand NGOs have been inspected and dozens have received warnings. Several of the most prominent human rights groups have been fined and some forced to close,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

The “foreign agents law” is at the center of a raft of repressive legislation that has been brought in since Putin’s return to the presidency.

“The ‘foreign agents law’ was designed to stigmatise and discredit NGOs engaged in human rights, election monitoring and other critical work. It is providing a perfect pretext for fining and closing critical organisations and will cut often vital funding streams,” said John Dalhuisen.

Russian NGOs have unanimously and vocally refused to be branded “foreign agents”. The unannounced mass “inspections” of some 1,000 organizations during the spring and autumn of 2013 were widely publicized by media aligned with the Russian authorities.

The “inspections” were followed by persecution of several NGOs and their leaders through administrative proceedings and the courts, and more cases are expected to follow.

Since the “foreign agents law” came into being:

•        At least 10 NGOs have been taken to court by the Russian authorities for failing to register as an “organization performing the functions of a foreign agent”.

•        At least five other NGOs across Russia have been taken to court following the “inspections” for purported administrative violations such as the failure to present requested documents.

•        At least 10 Russian NGO leaders have been ordered to comply with the “foreign agents law”.

•        And at least 37 NGOs have been officially warned that they will be in violation of the law if they continue to receive foreign funding and engage in arbitrarily defined “political activities”. This includes publishing online materials on human rights in Russia and not registering as “foreign agents”.

Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the Russia-wide movement “For Human Rights” told Amnesty International: “If we have to close down, thousands of people across Russia will suffer. If other NGOs are forced to close down – tens of thousands will suffer. Civil society will be doomed.”

“The ‘foreign agents law’ violates Russia’s national and international obligations to safeguard the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression.  It should be repealed immediately,” said John Dalhuisen.

Satellites

The Soviet collapse spawned 15 new countries that are now established members of the international community, but also a few far less known – and internationally unrecognized republics.

“Satellites” is a photographic journey by Jonas Bendiksen through the scattered enclaves, unrecognized mini-states, and other isolated communities that straddle the former satellite states of the now defunct USSR.

Transdniester – the breakaway region of Moldova (under Russian de-facto control)

Transdniesterian deputy minister of defense looking lovingly at an Alazan missile in front of a scene from 1992 breakaway war with Moldova. The Alazan missile has been in the media's focus as of late, with a Washington Post article accusing Transdniester of lacing the small missiles with nuclear dirty bomb warheads, something the government strongly denies. 2004

Transdniesterian deputy minister of defense looking lovingly at an Alazan missile in front of a scene from 1992 breakaway war with Moldova. The Alazan missile has been in the media’s focus as of late, with a Washington Post article accusing Transdniester of lacing the small missiles with nuclear dirty bomb warheads, something the government strongly denies. 2004

Crows circle a statue of Lenin in front of the Supreme Soviet building. Transdniester is in many ways one of the last bastions of communist nostalgia in the former USSR.

Crows circle a statue of Lenin in front of the Supreme Soviet building. Transdniester is in many ways one of the last bastions of communist nostalgia in the former USSR.

People on a bus commuting to a factory in the cold winter morning.

People on a bus commuting to a factory in the cold winter morning.

Patrons of "Red Heat", a local bar, drinking under banners with the Soviet hammer & sickle. In Transdniester, nostalgia for the USSR runs very high.

Patrons of “Red Heat”, a local bar, drinking under banners with the Soviet hammer & sickle. In Transdniester, nostalgia for the USSR runs very high.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova's heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova’s heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Streetscene during a snowstorm

Streetscene during a snowstorm

The population of Transdniester is mainly ethnic Russians, and the main religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity. Here a priest gives his blessings before a christening in the icy waters of January.

The population of Transdniester is mainly ethnic Russians, and the main religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity. Here a priest gives his blessings before a christening in the icy waters of January.

Russian stripper in a nightclub.

Russian stripper in a nightclub.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova's heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova’s heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

People headed to work in the morning.

People headed to work in the morning.

Outside the underground bar Prokhlada, a sign warns of the clubs conditions: No hand grenades, guns, knives, syringes, bottles, gas canisters or fighting allowed

Outside the underground bar Prokhlada, a sign warns of the clubs conditions: No hand grenades, guns, knives, syringes, bottles, gas canisters or fighting allowed

People attending a church-run soup kitchen. Most Transdniestrians are poor, and a large portion of the population are pensioneers longing for the better times of the USSR.

People attending a church-run soup kitchen. Most Transdniestrians are poor, and a large portion of the population are pensioneers longing for the better times of the USSR.

 

*In 2013, Moldova (together with Ukraine) seeked to strengthen economic and political relations with Europe. As a result, a Russian envoy was sent to Moldova’s capital Chisinau: “Energy supplies are important in the run-up to winter. I hope you won’t freeze”, suggesting Russia will cut off gas supplies to Moldova for its pro-Europe stance. (source)

The Other Moldova – Investigating illegal arms trafficking and accusations of possession of weapons of mass destruction

The breakaway Republic of Transnistria looks set to be the cause of more tensions between Russia and Moldova.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Eastern Moldova broke away from the rest of the country and moved closer to Russia. The self styled Republic of Transnistria is recognized by no other nation. It relies on 1,200 stationed Russian troops for protection and its criminal gangs have moved into Moldova. Now Moldova is pushing for a Russia withdrawal from Transnistria. “Transnistria is a festering criminal sore which is infecting all its neighbors,” states expert Dr Galeotti.

 Documentary analyzes the corruption and Russian connections

 The danger Transnistria presents as weapon smuggling haven

 

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Abkhazia, South Ossetia – breakaway regions of Georgia (under Russian de-facto control)

Although Abkhazia is isolated, half-abandoned and still suffering war wounds due to its unrecognized status, both locals and Russian tourists are drawn to the warm waters of the Black Sea. This unrecognized country, on a lush stretch of Black Sea coast, won its independence from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after a fierce war in 1993.

Although Abkhazia is isolated, half-abandoned and still suffering war wounds due to its unrecognized status, both locals and Russian tourists are drawn to the warm waters of the Black Sea. This unrecognized country, on a lush stretch of Black Sea coast, won its independence from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after a fierce war in 1993.

With its lush Black Sea location, Abkhazia is trying to attract Russian tourists. Here, at a road stop on the tour bus route, an entrepreneur, who charges tourists 10 rubles to photograph his bear, catches his breath between busloads.

With its lush Black Sea location, Abkhazia is trying to attract Russian tourists. Here, at a road stop on the tour bus route, an entrepreneur, who charges tourists 10 rubles to photograph his bear, catches his breath between busloads.

Babushka "Tanya," an elderly ethnic Russian woman, heads back to her bombed out apartment building after walking her dog. Despite the damages, three apartments remain occupied in the building

Babushka “Tanya,” an elderly ethnic Russian woman, heads back to her bombed out apartment building after walking her dog. Despite the damages, three apartments remain occupied in the building

Babushka Tanya's run down apartment. Her building was on the front line between Abkhazian and Georgian forces during the 1993 war.

Babushka Tanya’s run down apartment. Her building was on the front line between Abkhazian and Georgian forces during the 1993 war.

People sailing out on the Black Sea.

People sailing out on the Black Sea.

Russian tourist girl in a Soviet-era resort "Pensionat Energetik," on the coast of Gagra.

Russian tourist girl in a Soviet-era resort “Pensionat Energetik,” on the coast of Gagra.

Damaged apartment building on the outskirts of Sukhum. Some of the apartments are still occupied.

Damaged apartment building on the outskirts of Sukhum. Some of the apartments are still occupied.

A man with Tuberculosis. Abkhazia has high rates of TB. "Doctors Without Borders" supply the DOTS treatment in this hospital.

A man with Tuberculosis. Abkhazia has high rates of TB. “Doctors Without Borders” supply the DOTS treatment in this hospital.

Pentecostals listen to preacher in a cellar of former synagogue. Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Pentecostals listen to preacher in a cellar of former synagogue. Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Burnt school in one of the Georgian enclaves. South Ossetia, 2009

Burnt school in one of the Georgian enclaves. South Ossetia, 2009

Municipal orphanage, Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Municipal orphanage, Tshinvali, South Ossetia

Andrei Nekrasov’s documentary “Russian Lessons” focused on the two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The following are 2 extracts

Abkhazia

South Ossetia

BBC documentary

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Nagorno-Karabakh – breakaway region of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh NYC51118

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh 1

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh 2

How the conflict began (Ferghana valley and its involvement mentioned at 20:30)

Nagorno Karabakh conflict thoroughly explained, including the Russian involvement

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Uzbekistan – Ferghana Valley

The most complicated border negotiations in the Central Asia region involve the Fergana Valley, where multiple enclaves struggle to exist. Three countries share in the tangled border region; Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all have historic and economic claims to the regions transport routes and natural resources.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, border negotiations left substantial Uzbek populations stranded outside of Uzbekistan. In south-western Kyrgyzstan, a conflict over land between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks exploded in 1990 into large-scale ethnic violence (reoccurring in 2010). By establishing political units on a mono-ethnic basis in a region where various peoples have historically lived side by side, the Soviet process of national delimitation sowed the seeds of today’s inter-ethnic tensions.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley 2002 An Uzbek border patrol surveys one of the valley's seven territorial enclaves. The myriad borders of the valley make it hard to control and ideal for smugglers.

An Uzbek border patrol surveys one of the valley’s seven territorial enclaves. The myriad borders of the valley make it hard to control and ideal for smugglers.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley The government crackdown on Islam is forcing religion underground, into secret schools and mosques such as this one.

The government crackdown on Islam is forcing religion underground, into secret schools and mosques such as this one.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley A father who has three sons in jail for unsanctioned religious activity.

A father who has three sons in jail for unsanctioned religious activity.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley A woman who has lost most of the men in her family tp religious persecution. She has also been accused of religious crimes.

A woman who has lost most of the men in her family to religious persecution. She has also been accused of religious crimes.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley Here in the center of the underground religious movement, nearly all men keep a close shave to avoid government suspicion

Here in the center of the underground religious movement, nearly all men keep a close shave to avoid government suspicion.

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Kazakhstan – the toxic Russian rocket fuel issue

Toxic Russian Rocket Fuel Target of Kazakh Anger 

A nationalist political party in Kazakhstan has called on the government to ban future launches of Russian Proton-M carrier rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome over concerns that they spew a particularly toxic form of rocket fuel into the Kazakh steppe.

Also at play are issues of sovereignty arising from the intergovernmental agreements governing Russia’s use of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which the NSDP views as an affront to “the concept of sovereignty of Kazakhstan!” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Kazakhstan A band of scrap metal dealers scan while waiting for a rocket to crash.

A band of scrap metal dealers scan while waiting for a rocket to crash.

Kazakhstan The flaming wreck of the same rocket after it crashed during the night.

The flaming wreck of the same rocket after it crashed during the night.

Kazakhstan The fiery wreck of a rocket after it crashed during the night.

The fiery wreck of a rocket after it crashed during the night.

Kazakhstan A Soyuz rocket fuel tank lies on the steppe.

A Soyuz rocket fuel tank lies on the steppe.

Kazakhstan Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies. Environmentalists fear for the region's future due to the toxic rocket fuel.

Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies. Environmentalists fear for the region’s future due to the toxic rocket fuel.

Kazakhstan Altai Dead cows lying on a cliff. The local population claim whole herds of cattle and sheep regularly die as a result of rocket fuel poisoned soil

Dead cows lying on a cliff. The local population claim whole herds of cattle and sheep regularly die as a result of rocket fuel poisoned soil.