TENSIONS IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
Political confrontation erupted into violence Tuesday in Tajikistan, and the Crimea proclaimed independence from Ukraine, highlighting the uncertain standing of the new Commonwealth of Independent States little more than a week before its leaders hold their third summit.
Four people died and nine were injured in the Central Asian republic bordering China and Afghanistan, the first casualties in a month of political gamesmanship between supporters and opponents of conservative President Rakhmon Nabiyev.
Opposition activists, who seized the republic's main television studio, broadcast the terms of a truce arranged by negotiators who took part in discreet talks with authorities. But mass rallies by both sides continued well into the night in Dushanbe in violation of a curfew imposed by President Nabiyev.
The truce announced at midnight called on opposition guardsmen to disperse and said the president's national guard formed last weekend must be disarmed. Emergency measures introduced by Nabiyev, who has run Tajikistan for nearly 20 years, included a ban on all political activities and strikes and thorough searches of cars.
In the Crimean Peninsula, parliament overwhelmingly voted to proclaim independence from Ukraine, a slap in the face to authorities in Kiev who had extended broad autonomy to the mainly Russian-speaking area to preclude secession.