Putin: Sochi on his mind
You only have to look at this morning’s news headlines to see what it must be like to be a citizen of China and Russia, those countries that stopped a major war in Syria but who continue to suppress anyone who opposes their authoritarian rule.
The second bomb blast in Volgograd which is a stone’s throw from Sochi, where of course there will be the Winter games, comes after the controversial Vladimir Putin freed a number of high profile political prisoners that included Khordovsky and Pussy Riot.
And in China there was yet more trouble in that restive province that is Khashgar.
Both Russia and China want to project themselves as great powers. And the outside world is already getting a taste of what kind of force they are going to be like. The trouble is the very democracies that should be reminding these ‘new kids on the block’ of their duties to their citizens are themselves behaving no better in other people’s lands.
Twelve people have died in riots near the north-western city of Kashgar in Xinjiang province, the BBC reports.
It quotes Chinese state media which says that rioters killed 10 people, while two of the rioters were shot by police.
The Xinhua news agency gives no detail as to what triggered the violence.
Security has been high in the north-western province since riots in 2009 in the capital Urumqi between the Muslim Uighurs, who are the largest ethnic group, and Han Chinese migrants.
Nearly 200 people were killed in that unrest, most of them Han, according to officials.
Today’s violence took place in a market in Yecheng county, according to Xinhua, which says police are still hunting some of the rioters.
Almost half of Xinjiang’s residents are Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims with cultural and ethnic links to Central Asia.
Many complain that large-scale migration of Han Chinese workers from the east has cost them jobs and is eroding their culture.
China has invested heavily in Xinjiang and the region’s rich oil and gas deposits are vital to its booming economy.
Uighurs say they are suffering discrimination and marginalisation, and this has been behind anti-Han and separatist sentiment in Xinjiang since the 1990s.
Further violence broke out in July 2011 and left 32 people dead.
A hostage-taking incident in December led to the death of seven kidnappers – part of a “terror gang,” according to Chinese state media.
China claims it faces an organised terrorist threat from radical Muslims in Xinjiang, but Uighur activists say citizens are angry at Beijing’s heavy-handed rule in the region.