Remember the first generation of post-Communist leaders? The guys who took power immediately after Communism collapsed? Well, here’s a question: almost 20 years later, how many of them are still running things?
Not so many. A fair number of them are dead: Croatia’s Tudjman, Bosnia’s Izetbegovic, Hungary’s Jozsef Antall, Russia’s Yeltsin. Some are too old to do much — Romania’s Iliescu, Hungary’s Arpad Goncz. A few have retired from politics — Bulgaria’s Zhelev and Dimitrov. And quite a few are still alive, and active in politics, but will never reach positions of real power again.
— I should clarify my definitions here. I’m looking only at the top guys (they’re all guys). Presidents or other heads of state, Prime Ministers or other heads of government, or those who held equivalent levels of executive power. So, to qualify, you must have been President or PM in the first post-Communist government, and still be President or PM today.
In a post back in May about the bloody repression in Uzbekistan I noted that Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin was suggesting that US troops should be withdrawn immediately (I didn’t agree if you read the post). Well he seems to have got his way, and the reasoning behind the Uzbekistan parliament decision is of course interesting. The parliament has backed a government order which gives the United States six months to vacate the Karshi-Khanabad airbase. The suggestion is that this order is not entirely unconnected with the U.S. decision to join international demands for an independent investigation into May’s bloody crackdown.
Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary Uzbek government officials continue to dismiss eyewitness reports that soldiers opened fire on civilians during last weeks protests in the eastern town of Andijan.
Not a single civilian was killed by government forces there,? Prosecutor General Rashid Kadyrov said.
Lyndon has some interesting background at Scraps of Moscow. Reuters’ Dmitry Solovyov is reporting that “Uzbekistan’s government on Wednesday took foreign diplomats to the town where witnesses said troops shot dead hundreds of people but did not show them the actual site of the massacre”.
The report contains a useful description of the visit, and of what the diplomats were able to see:
“Heavily armed special forces accompanied the busloads of visitors as they traveled around the deserted town, where the normally bustling tea houses and kebab shops were empty apart from the police and soldiers patrolling them”.
” Now, as to the latest events that have just taken place, I do think that we — and we would hope that the government of Uzbekistan — would be very open in understanding what has happened there…Nobody is asking any government to deal with terrorists..That’s not the issue. The issue, though, is that it is a society that needs openness, it needs reform.”
Now maybe I am being slow, but I don’t understand this. Where is the openness in Rice’s own statement?
Ok, I’m feeling guilty. Back in November, when the ‘orange revolution’ was thriving in Ukraine, we were all over it here at Afoe. Now, with an estimated several hundred dead in Andizhan, Uzbekistan we’re strangely silent. Why, because it isn’t Europe? Well, we are a Europe centred blog, but I hope that doesn’t mean we are Eurocentric. In any event we are involved, one way or another: as Jack Straws comments, or lack of them, make only too plain. So I’m going to try and follow what is happening in Uzbekistan.