Friday, December 22, 2006

Niyazov poisoned too?

The rumor mill is already turning...there are reports that Saparmuratov Niyazov [Turkmenbashi] may have been, you've guessed it..poisoned... several days before his death was announced.

Furthermore, Niyazov's personal treasurer, Aleksandr Zhadan, apparently disappeared on the day before his death. 'Very important documents' have also gone missing. Zhadan was one of Niyazov's closest and most influential personal friends, responsible for attending Niyazov's every need.

Niyazov had between $2 and $3 Bn salted away in Deutsche Bank accounts under his own personal control. DB couldn't possibly reveal how much there really is, it wouldn't be ethical would it?

Good background from Stratfor here

A few quotes:

"While his violent tendencies could hardly be compared to those of Josef Stalin, Niyazov instituted purge after purge to remove any semblance of opposition -- indeed, independent thought -- from his domain. His sense of irony often showed in his actions, such as when a railroad minister was "accidentally" run over by a train. [What a joker..]

But the economic implications of Niyazov's demise are merely the tip of the geopolitical iceberg. What will soon begin is a free-for-all over the future of the territory.

Russia must have Turkmen natural gas to keep its policy of using energy as a foreign policy hammer going; replacing Turkmen supplies would take a decade and tens of billions of dollars in cash that Gazprom simply does not have. This policy is the foundation of Russia's grand strategy, and there is little Moscow would not do to ensure that it gets its way.

For Iran, Turkmenbashi's death presents an opportunity. Turkmenistan is the borderland between the Persians on one hand and the Central Asian tribes and the Russians on the other. Historically, invasions of Persia have come from two directions: west and north. Iranian policy vis-à-vis Iraq to the west is something Stratfor has discussed at length, and in order to secure that border, Tehran has masterminded events to turn Iraq into a quagmire for the United States. To secure its north, Tehran is very likely to contemplate measures of a similar scope. Indeed, the majority of Turkmenistan's 5 million people live within a few miles of the Iranian border. [Check out a map] An invasion would be logistically simple, strategically sound and impossible for any power to counter.

Notably absent from this game is the West."

No wonder Yushchenko looked 'off color' at his brief press conference with Putin today [conducted in Russian].


Anonymous said...

I did not want to say it but I did find the timing of his death incredibly coincidental. Will there be an autopsy and who will be conducting it?

(Do you remember how the PM of Georgia died right around the time that Yulia took office as PM? Kinda suspicious regarding the timing of these events. Honestly, gotta wonder.)

And I agree with the statement of the expert from Russia that ch. 5 had an audio interview with yesterday in that Yushchenko is "not a free man". His hands are tied in alot of ways for alot of reasons. No surprise that he signed the budget for 2007. Putin's visit was a show of power and strength.

I wonder what was said behind the closed doors on the mtg. bet. Putin and Yanukovych.

LEvko said...

Ukraine depends on Turmenistan for about half of its gas needs. Russia too needs Turkmen gas as a back-up in the event of very high gas consumption during particularly cold winter spells. Putin was asked about gas supplies from Turkmenistan during his press conference with Yushchenko several days ago.

According to the FT "Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, promised on Friday to keep natural gas flowing to Ukraine even if supplies from gas-rich Turkmenistan faltered following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, the Turkmen leader."

Someone who saw the press conference on TV told me Putin merely said, Russia has long term gas supply contracts with Turkmenistan, implying that Russia won't let Ukraine down.

My view is that no-one really knows how matters 'pan- out' but there is plenty of potential for mischief, eg from Iran which could trigger a reaction from Russia, who could decide to 'get its retaliation in first'..I agree with Stratfor who say that western powers are largely excluded from this [great] game.

I've read nothing further about any possible poisoning, but as you point out, leaders of former Soviet republics do seem to be, let's say, accident-prone.

Anonymous said...

You can read Putin's exact words in english or russian from the Kremlin website
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We have long-term agreements with Turkmenistan about delivering gas to Ukraine. Russia always has delivered gas, continues to deliver gas and intends to keep on fulfilling its responsibilities as stated in the signed documents, in our contracts, including with respect to the transport of energy products through Russian territory. We see no reason for revising the agreements we already have. The issue of transporting additional gas could be addressed within the framework of the agreements that we reached in January 2006 – those that I already mentioned. We are ready to cooperate with Ukraine based on market principles and, if necessary, we are ready to consider additional fuel deliveries.