- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 18, 2002

Kyrgyzstan riot police mistreat protesters

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan Riot police kicked protesters and dragged them away from Parliament Square two days ago as nationwide demonstrations in support of an opposition lawmaker mounted in this Central Asian nation.

Dozens were detained. Opposition activists blockaded the main north-south highway and picketed government buildings all week, voicing anger at the government for what they say are politically motivated charges against lawmaker Azimbek Beknazarov.

They also are angry about police actions at protests in March in which five persons were killed. Those protests marked the most serious public violence in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, where more than 1,900 U.S. and other foreign troops are deployed to support the anti-terror campaign in nearby Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan, U.S. extend arms pact

ALMATY, Kazakhstan Parliament agreed here this week to extend an accord on the destruction of intercontinental ballistic missile silos and the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, Interfax news agency reports.

Kazakhstan and the United States signed a threat-reduction agreement to destroy silos in December 1993 for a seven-year term with the option of extension, the news agency said.

The accord, which has to be signed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, will apply retroactively from December 2000 for another seven-year period until 2007, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

Russia giving Burma a nuclear reactor

MOSCOW Russia has signed an agreement with Burma for the construction of a nuclear-study center that will include a low-powered reactor for research purposes and a waste facility, the Russian government announced.

The two countries are to cooperate on building "a nuclear center, a 10-megawatt research reactor, two laboratories along with the required infrastructure, including a nuclear-waste site," a statement said.

Burma is run by a military junta that has been widely condemned for human rights abuses. The pro-democracy opposition has said it is against the reactor project, warning it could lead to nuclear arms proliferation.

Weekly notes

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh has cancelled a 12-day visit to Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius scheduled to start May 27 because of rising tensions with Pakistan, the Press Trust of India reports. It quoted Foreign Ministry sources as saying Mr. Singh called off the tour "in view of the seriousness of the situation." One of Sri Lanka's main ethnic Tamil parties has stepped up pressure on the government to lift a ban on the Tamil Tiger rebels, one of the last major hurdles in the way of talks to end one of Asia's longest ethnic wars. The appeal Thursday from the Tamil United Liberation Front came a day after the rebels said talks expected next month could be delayed unless the ban was lifted and conditions of a cease-fire fully implemented.

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