On October 30, the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan opened public proceedings in the criminal trial against twelve opposition leaders and militants. Three defendants are in the dock while the other nine are being tried in absentia. The nine being tried in absentia include Tahir Yuldash, Juma Namangani and Muhammad Solih. Yuldash and Namangani are the top leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which staged guerrilla incursions in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 1999 and this year. The two top leaders have recently been moving between various havens in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Solih–a pseudonym of Salai Madaminov–is the leader of the banned Erk [Freedom] Democratic Party of Uzbekistan. He was defeated in the 1991 presidential election by the incumbent President Islam Karimov. Solih was based mostly in Turkey until 1999, but had to move to Norway when the Turks asked him to leave at Karimov’s insistence. Although Erk is a secular, basically Western-oriented party, Solih is believed to have had contacts with IMU leaders. He has occasionally been spotted in areas near IMU sanctuaries and has shared with IMU leaders the airwaves of Iranian state radio. Uzbek authorities portray Solih and the IMU as components of a united opposition, blurring the distinctions between them.
The other six wanted defendants are charged with planting the bombs that killed nearly twenty and wounded some 120 people in Tashkent in the February 1999 assassination attempt against Karimov. The three defendants in the dock include an Uzbek citizen and two ethnic Uzbeks from Tajikistan. They were captured during recent antiguerrilla operations in the Surkhandaria Region of southern Uzbekistan.
The trial is attended by relatives of victims of the Tashkent bombings and of the fighting in Surkhandaria. Court proceedings are being selectively televised and will feature more than 700 testimonies for the prosecution.
“The Fortnight in Review” is prepared by senior analysts Jonas Bernstein (Russia), Stephen Foye (Security and Foreign Policy), and Vladimir Socor (Non-Russian republics). Editor, Stephen Foye. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4526 43rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of “The Fortnight in Review” is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation