Weekly news wrap

Kyrgyz opposition and human rights organisations on Saturday began picketing the parliament building in the capital, Bishkek, demanding the restoration of registration for parliamentary candidate, leader of the Fatherland opposition coalition Roza Otunbayeva.

Ex-foreign minister and former envoy to the US and UK, Otunbayeva was registered by a district elections commission in the capital on 6 January, but her registration was subsequently cancelled because she failed to meet the "residence" threshold. Under current Kyrgyz legislation, a candidate running for parliament should have lived in the country for five years prior to the polls. Otunbayeva's supporters claimed the decision was politically motivated.

In Tajikistan, it was reported on Saturday that a local resident was killed by a landmine while collecting firewood near the Uzbek border. Khotamjon Yusupov, 40, died from his wounds on the spot in the northern Isfara region, said the press office of Tajikistan's border service.

Tajik officials say 63 Tajiks have been killed and 66 wounded since Uzbekistan began planting land mines on its borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2000, claiming they were needed to keep out drugs, smuggled weapons and fighters linked with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan(IMU), a group that has been connected to Al-Qaeda.

An alliance of ethnic minorities, including Korean, German, Ossetian, Arab and Tatar-Bashkir communities, living in Tajikistan was established on Saturday, the Tajik Asia-Plus news agency reported. The head of the Korean diaspora in Tajikistan, Viktor Kim said that the interests of representatives of 100 ethnic groups living in Tajikistan, who constitute 1 percent of the country's 6.3 million population, were not protected.

The heads of the Tajik, Russian and Iranian power grids late Wednesday signed a protocol on the construction of two hydroelectric power plants in southeastern Tajikistan, AFP reported. The whole Sangtuda project, which includes the two plants, will represent up to US $700 million worth of investments, they said.

Tajikistan has abundant water resources suitable for generating hydroelectric power, however, the country still reeling from the effects of the five-year civil war that ravaged the country in 1990s doesn't have funds to invest in the sector.

In Kazakhstan, a decision by a court banning the country's main opposition party, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), was strongly criticised on Monday by the New York-based rights watchgog, Human Rights Watch (HRW). The ban of DCK cames as a blow to the promotion of political pluralism in this oil-rich former Soviet republic, HRW said in an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In its ruling, the court in the commercial capital, Almaty, said that a recent statement by DCK threatened national security and stability as it denied the legitimacy of Nazarbayev the country's parliament and called for a civil disobedience campaign. "The decision to close down DCK was clearly politically motivated," Petr Svoik, a senior DCK official, told IRIN from Almaty, on Wednesday.

In Uzbekistan, a brucellosis outbreak registered in the central province of Jizzak was attributed to insufficient veterinary and sanitary measures, a local human rights group said on Monday. Kurbon Turdiev, a physician from a hospital in the Jizzak region, told Uzbekistan's Human Rights Society (UHRS) that 19 people were hospitalised with the disease. The outbreak was caused by veterinary negligence on farms and at cattle and meat markets, along with a failure to ensure animal vaccinations, Turdiev said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), brucellosis is transmitted from animals to humans through contaminated and untreated milk and milk products, or by direct contact with infected animals and animal carcasses. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and camels can transmit the disease. Brucellosis is accompanied by fever, generalised aches and pains, fatigue and depression.