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Gazprom resumes imports from Turkmenistan after a long halt

  • Written by Vladimir Socor

ASHGABAT (TCA) — The resumption of Turkmen natural-gas imports by Russia will certainly help Ashgabat to increase the much-needed foreign-currency revenues, but the move does not fully solve Turkmenistan’s pressing need for gas-export diversification. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Vladimir Socor:

Read more: Gazprom resumes imports from Turkmenistan after a long halt

Kazakhstan: Foreign journalists visit Altynkol station, Khorgos SEZ

  • Written by TCA

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — A press tour was held earlier this week for representatives of foreign and Kazakh media within the framework of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative to Altynkol station and facilities of the SEZ "Khorgos - Eastern gate" on the Kazakh-Chinese border in Kazakhstan’s Almaty region, the press service of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railway company reported.

Read more: Kazakhstan: Foreign journalists visit Altynkol station, Khorgos SEZ

OSCE-supported Customs Training Centre in Kyrgyzstan gets new int’l status

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Kunio Mikuriya, together with the Chairperson of the State Customs Service (SCS) of the Kyrgyz Republic Almaz Onolbekov, with the support of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, opened a new Regional Training Centre of the World Customs Organization in Kyrgyzstan on 16 April in Bishkek.

Read more: OSCE-supported Customs Training Centre in Kyrgyzstan gets new int’l status

Peace talks with Afghan Taliban and its implications for Pakistan

  • Written by Farhan Zahid

KABUL (TCA) — Islamabad is interested in establishing peace in neighboring Afghanistan, as it would bring in dividends to Pakistan’s economy. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Farhan Zahid:

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Turkmenistan, Republic of Korea to expand trade, economic cooperation

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Trade and economic cooperation was among the main subjects of talks of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in in Ashgabat on April 17, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

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In Turkmenistan, OSCE PA special representative builds parliamentary dialogue

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Central Asia, Austrian parliamentarian Roman Haider, is in Turkmenistan this week, where he has attended the OSCE Regional Meeting of Heads of OSCE Field Operations in Central Asia and a conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the opening of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat. He has also met with Turkmen officials and members of the international community.

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Tajikistan and Russia to continue security cooperation

  • Written by TCA

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon have vowed to continue their countries' security cooperation, RFE/RL reported.

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Kazakhstan to increase non-primary exports to $32 billion by 2022

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — A meeting of the Kazakh Government on April 16, chaired by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, discussed the issues of promoting non-primary exports and the implementation of the national export strategy. For the further development of the country’s export potential, the Kazakhstan Industry and Export Center has been established, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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EBRD in first syndicated loan for Kazakhstan microfinance group

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Micro, small and medium-sized companies in Kazakhstan will benefit from a syndicated loan of up to US$ 50 million arranged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the country’s largest micro-finance organisation, KMF, the Bank said on April 16.

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Kyrgyzstan: 2018 Human Rights Report highlights positive developments

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — On April 16, the U.S. Department of State released the Kyrgyz and Russian language translations of the 2018 Kyrgyz Republic Human Rights Report. This year the report highlights significant achievements by the Government of Kyrgyzstan and civil society in the human rights sphere, the US Embassy in Bishkek said in a press release.

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Kyrgyzstan: Experts discuss a sustainable model for extractive industries

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA) of the Graduate School of Development organised a meeting in Bishkek to discuss the current situation of the mining sector in Kyrgyzstan with representatives of state agencies, mining companies, experts and researchers, as well as international organisations and institutions.

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Germany interested to invest in Kazakhstan

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The 12th meeting of the Kazakhstan-German Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on Trade and Economic Cooperation took place at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Berlin last week. For the first time, the chief organiser of the event from the Kazakh side was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, which at the end of last year was tasked with attracting foreign investments and supporting Kazakhstan exports abroad. The Kazakh delegation was headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-Chairman of the IWG, Mr. Yermek Kosherbayev, and the delegation of Germany was headed by the Deputy Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Co-Chairman of the IWG, Mr. Eckhard Franz, Kazakh Invest national investment promotion company reported.

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Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan agree on joint projects

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — At the invitation of Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev paid a state visit to Uzbekistan.

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Afghanistan invites to invest in its mining projects

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — In a keynote address at the Afghanistan Mining Investment Forum convened by INVEST, a global initiative of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to mobilize private investment in partner countries, Afghan Minister of Mines and Petroleum Nargis Nehan announced 43 new large and small-scale mining projects available for private sector investment and development, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported on April 15.

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Russia's Gazprom resumes buying Turkmenistan’s natural gas

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom says it has resumed imports of natural gas from Turkmenistan that it stopped three years ago, RFE/RL reported.

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Afghanistan: Former warlord says 'no doubt' Pakistan 'supports' Taliban

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious former warlords, said there is "no doubt" neighboring Pakistan supports the Afghan Taliban, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

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Kazakhstan to build logistics centers in Iran ports for exports to Gulf countries

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Iran will provide land in the ports of Bandar Abbas and Amirabad for Kazakhstan to build logistics centers for exporting goods through Iran to the Persian Gulf markets. Agreements on the issue were reached after the meetings of Kazakhstan’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi with Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Jahad Yazdan Seif in Tehran last week, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry reported.

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Uzbekistan promotes a healthy lifestyle of its citizens

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan has launched a series of mass events across the country to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent obesity and other illnesses, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Turkmenistan needs to speed up market-oriented reforms, build human capital — IMF

  • Written by TCA

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan’s economy has slowed because of declining public investment and a more active use of foreign exchange regulations, which have weighed on private investment and consumption, according to a statement issued by Ms. Natalia Tamirisa, head of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission that visited Ashgabat during March 26-April 9 to assess macroeconomic and financial developments and discuss economic challenges and policy priorities with senior government officials, representatives of the business and financial sectors, and the diplomatic community.

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To improve school education, Kyrgyzstan needs to focus on its quality and innovation

  • Written by Maria Levina

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov promised to raise secondary school teachers' salaries at a Parliament meeting on April 11.

The country has a chance to develop not due to the amount of human resources, but due to their quality, the President said. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to education and healthcare and introduce new technologies into these sectors, he added.

To achieve this goal, the State should improve social welfare of its citizens.

“We managed to raise the salaries of medical doctors this year,” the President said, adding that the Government will also raise the salaries of teachers from the new school year this autumn.

Jeenbekov also spoke about the need to increase salaries of public servants.

“Salaries of specialists from ministries, departments and local governments are also low, and they will be increased in stages,” he said.

“We cannot demand quality work from teachers whose monthly salary is 10–12 thousand soms (around $150),” lawmaker Abduvakhab Nurbayev earlier said.

Schools overcrowded

According to parliament members, Kyrgyzstan’s regions are facing an educational crisis. There are not enough textbooks, computers, as well as the schools themselves.

Most schools are overcrowded even in the capital, Bishkek, which currently lacks 15 schools.

In some schools in Bishkek and Osh, the number of students is seven-fold higher than the buildings’ design capacity allows, said Deputy Prime Minister Altynai Omurbekova.

In 158 schools of the country children study in three shifts and 191 schools are in disrepair, she added.

There are 1.2 million schoolchildren in Kyrgyzstan.

Textbook problem

According to the Ministry of Education and Science, only 72% of schoolchildren are provided with textbooks in the country.

The Ministry cannot cope with the seemingly simple task — to provide schoolchildren with educational literature. The school year will end soon but some students still have not received necessary textbooks.

The Ministry does not have enough budget funds and donor assistance to provide free textbooks, and parents have to partially or completely buy books for their children. Parents are willing to pay, but some of the textbooks have not yet been printed.

In the Jalal-Abad region in the south of the country, fifth-grade students study Kyrgyz language and literature without any textbooks.

It is good that there is an opportunity to find electronic version of some textbooks on math, physics or chemistry on the Internet. But again, this is not available for all children. Some children, especially in poor families and remote areas do not have access to the Internet.

According to the National Statistics Committee, 25.6% or 1.6 million Kyrgyz people are poor, of which 41 thousand live below the extreme poverty line. Most of the poor (72%) are rural residents.

In Kyrgyzstan, the poor are classified as citizens whose income does not exceed 2,674 soms (about $39) per month. The extremely poor are citizens with incomes below 1,455 soms (about $21) per month.

Private schools

It is believed that children receive a better education in private schools than in public ones. At least, thanks to a small number of students, teachers have the time to focus on each of them.

There are 154 private schools in Kyrgyzstan, and more than 80 of them are in Bishkek. These schools are not accessible to children from low-income families due to high tuition fees.

The Russian language prevails in private schools, but the curriculum for studying the state (Kyrgyz) and foreign languages is also observed.

The private schools are required to comply with the school education standards and basic curriculum. The education cost is set by the schools’ founders and agreed with the State Anti-Monopoly Regulation Agency.

Educational clusters

To implement the Regional Policy Concept of Kyrgyzstan, the Education Ministry has begun the creation of educational clusters in the regions.

There are 91 innovative schools in all areas of Kyrgyzstan established with the support of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. About 30 schools are already equipped with the latest generation computers, multifunctional devices, server hardware, interactive boards, and video conferencing system, the Ministry reports.

The tasks of these schools include approbation of e-learning, piloting the introduction of multimedia and electronic technologies, and remote training of teachers.

Access to Internet

Accessible and high-quality Internet means access, first of all, to education, healthcare and business opportunities and, as a result, to economic growth.

OneWeb global communications operator launched low-orbit satellites into space to create the conditions for Internet access to hard-to-reach schools in six countries — Ecuador, Rwanda, Nepal, Honduras, Alaska (USA), and Kyrgyzstan.

The State Committee of Information Technologies and Communications (ICT) and the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan have partnered with UNICEF and OneWeb to connect the Kyzyl October school in the mountain-locked Kotur-Suu village in the Naryn oblast to the broadband Internet in 2020.

The school was selected through UNICEF’s Project Connect, which helped build a school connectivity map with real-time data displaying the Internet connectivity for nearly every school in the country.

According to Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan, the geographical location of schools directly affects how children receive information in hard-to-reach Kyrgyzstan regions. The Internet school connectivity map helped give a realistic assessment of the situation.

According to the Education Ministry, 86% of schools out of total 2,137 have access to the Internet. However, 35 schools are located in remote mountainous areas, where laying of fiber-optic and wireless communication lines is difficult.

“All schools will be provided with Internet and computer infrastructure,” President Jeenbekov promised.

As part of the School of the Future project, about ten schools will be built in each region with an emphasis on the training of certain specialists. Each student of such schools will be fluent in Kyrgyz, English and Russian, he added.

“In these schools, trainers will be not teachers but managers, bankers and entrepreneurs,” the President said.

Fugitive former presidential candidate cancels return to Kyrgyzstan

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — Omurbek Babanov, Kyrgyzstan’s former presidential candidate who fled the country amid a criminal probe, has canceled plans to return to his home country, RFE/RL reported.

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Weekly Digest of Central Asia

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Publisher’s note: Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Central Asia was the scene of intense geopolitical struggle and the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires, and later between the Soviet Union and the West, over Afghanistan and neighboring territories. Into the 21st century, Central Asia has become the area of a renewed geopolitical interest, dubbed the New Great Game, largely based on the region’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth. On top of that, the region now is perhaps the most important node in the implementation of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative through which Beijing aims to get direct access to Western markets. Every week thousands of news appears in the world’s printed and online media and many of them may escape the attention of busy readers. At The Times of Central Asia, we strongly believe that more information can better contribute to peaceful development and better knowledge of this unique region. So we are presenting this Weekly Digest which compiles what other media have reported on Central Asia over the past week.

KAZAKHSTAN

Why Does Russian Disinformation Not Target Kazakhstan?

The strong bilateral ties between Russia and Kazakhstan are one way to explain the absence of negative disinformation in Russia directed at Kazakhstan’s government or related to Nazarbayev personally

Apr 6 — “Kazakhstan’s long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev relinquished power and stepped down on March 19, prompting speculation about this Central Asian country’s political future. But one question rarely asked is why Kazakhstan has not been the target of Russian disinformation campaigns. Since the absence of news is also news, we looked into this question to try and understand what motivates Moscow to launch disinformation against some countries and not others, particularly this one.” READ MORE: https://www.polygraph.info/a/disinfo-analysis-russia-kazakhstan-disinformation/29859460.html

Political Profile: The Rise of Dariga Nazarbayeva in Kazakhstan

George Voloshin, head of the French branch at Aperio, corporate risk intelligence consultancy in Paris, discusses the role of Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of long-time Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, now that her father has resigned

Apr 9 — “Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/political-profile-the-rise-of-dariga-nazarbayeva-in-kazakhstan/

Nazarbayev's long rule leaves toxic legacy for Kazakhstan's media

Under Nazarbayev, the state acquired an armory of legal weapons, from punitive defamation laws and the criminalization of "false information" to stringent controls over media operations and powers to block online communications

Apr 9 — “In 2011, I observed an astonishing spectacle in the Respublikanewspaper offices in Almaty, Kazakhstan's financial capital. Journalists were putting a modern-day twist on samizdat, a practice in the Soviet Union whereby dissidents laboriously copied illicit material to circumvent censorship. This was both a throwback to a totalitarian past and a premonition of the future for the press under Nursultan Nazarbayev who, until his resignation last month, had ruled for three decades.” READ MORE: https://cpj.org/blog/2019/04/nazarbayev-kazakhstan-legacy-press-freedom-censored.php

Kazakhstan: Tokayev primed as shoo-in for snap presidential election

With the announcement of a snap presidential election in Kazakhstan, the power transition game has drawn closer to its culmination

Apr 10 — “While announcing Kazakhstan’s snap presidential election on April 9, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev omitted to say whether he would run. But in just three weeks in charge, he has already begun to look like the leader-in-waiting. Tokayev, 65, has toured the provinces to glad-hand people, popped over to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and announced populist decisions. Billboards with his image have already begun appearing.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/21042-kazakhstan-tokayev-primed-as-shoo-in-for-snap-presidential-election

KYRGYZSTAN

How wild landscapes of Kyrgyzstan seduced photographer Albert Dros

Kyrgyzstan is home to a staggering diversity of landscapes

Apr 9 — “It's darker than dark. A solid beam of torchlight punches through the blackness ahead where giant, unseen towers of rock point up to a night sky crazed with billions of stars. It's cold, too. Two o'clock in the morning, late winter cold. Breaths of mountain air rasp in and out of lungs as the small group hauls gear higher up the side of the invisible canyon. Lights are positioned. Tripods and cameras assembled.” READ MORE: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/kyrgyzstan-albert-dros-photographer/index.html

Kyrgyzstan: Businessman's return presages a possibly hot season of politics

Omurbek Babanov faces possibly two outstanding criminal charges — one for allegedly inciting ethnic tensions during his election campaign, the other is related to an alleged plot to seize power by fomenting unrest after failing to win the presidential contest

Apr 11 — “An opposition heavyweight in Kyrgyzstan is set to return home after an 18-month stretch of self-imposed exile, setting the stage for a nerve-jangling season of politics. Omurbek Babanov, a wealthy businessman who has been based in Russia since losing the October 2017 election to incumbent President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, is expected to fly in to Bishkek early in the afternoon on April 13. What will happen when he arrives is a conundrum.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-businessmans-return-presages-a-possibly-hot-season-of-politics

In ‘Great Game Lite,’ Russia and China compete for influence in Kyrgyzstan

Geopolitically, Kyrgyzstan is in between Russia and China, and the Central Asian nation has been maneuvering to take a maximum advantage of its two great neighbors’ interest in this small but strategically located country

Apr 12 — “The political vacuum that emerged across Eurasia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw Russia’s former suzerainty over the former Soviet space contested by both the United States and China in a new and modified version of the “Great Game.” But today, with US influence diminishing due to the drawdown of operations by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan, the Eurasian region is increasingly coming under contention between China and a resurgent Russia: the former offering prosperity via its “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure projects, and the latter relying on longstanding political ties and security concerns.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/26-opinion-head/21050-in-great-game-lite-russia-and-china-compete-for-influence-in-kyrgyzstan

TAJIKISTAN

Tourism Development Agency makes tourist maps for cities and districts of Tajikistan

Tajikistan declared 2019-2021 the Years of Development of Rural Areas, Tourism and Folk Crafts in the country

Apr 6 — “The Tourism Development Agency under the Government of Tajikistan is making tourist maps for cities and districts of the country. These maps are expected to be distributed in airports, railway stations and border crossing points (BCPs), reports Trend with reference to asiaplus.tj” READ MORE: https://www.azernews.az/region/148479.html

Tajikistan: Plight of fake government critic highlights dangers of credulity

A Facebook user going by the name Alisher Alikhonov claimed he was under police investigation in Tajikistan — but he doesn't exist

Apr 8 — “A new name has been added to the list of exiled victims of political repression in Tajikistan: Alisher Alikhonov. There is just one problem. Alikhonov does not appear to exist. It is not known if Alikhonov was the brainchild of a prankster with too much time on their hands, a media critic trying to show up the gullibility of the region’s press or a mischievous government-affiliated troll.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-plight-of-fake-government-critic-highlights-dangers-of-credulity

Tajik ISIS Member: Many Foreign Militants Jailed or Killed

Tajikistan has offered amnesty to those who quit ISIS and return home, provided they've committed no other crimes

Apr 12 — “A Tajik man who joined ISIS said many foreigners who enlisted with the group in Iraq and Syria were jailed or killed for trying to leave. The 28-year-old, who once drove a taxi in Moscow, said he handed himself over to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed group, from ISIS’ last holdout of Baghouz in eastern Syria last month after years of trying to escape.” READ MORE: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1675706/tajik-isis-member-many-foreign-militants-jailed-or-killed

TURKMENISTAN

How cotton picked with forced labor in Turkmenistan finds its way to the high street

While the United States recently banned imports of cotton or cotton products produced in Turkmenistan, Turkmen cotton is still present in the clothes sold by international fashion brands all over the world

Apr 8 — “A new report by Anti-Slavery International reveals how cotton picked with forced labor in Turkmenistan makes its way to high street shops across the world. Every year, tens of thousands of public sector workers, including teachers and doctors, are forced by the government to pick cotton at the harvest, under threat of punishment, according to the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The only way of getting out of the duty is by paying a bribe or hiring someone else to work on your behalf.” READ MORE: https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/how-cotton-picked-with-forced-labor-in-turkmenistan-finds-its-way-to-the-high-street/2019040842594

Turkmenistan: Rebuilding bridges

In its ‘Akhal-Teke: A Turkmenistan Bulletin’, Eurasianet reviews the main news and events in the Central Asian country for the previous week

Apr 9 — “The myth of Turkmenistan’s economic buoyancy has been readily abetted over the years by international financial institutions. Even they are starting to revise their story, albeit slightly. The World Bank has lowered its forecast for economic growth to 5.6 percent this year and 5.1 percent in 2020. It was 6.2 percent in 2018. The Asian Development Bank forecast a slightly higher 6 and 5.8 percent for 2019 and 2020, respectively, but cautioned that inflation will outstrip growth.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-rebuilding-bridges

MTS doubles the amount of financial claim against Turkmenistan

The Russian cellular operator says Turkmenistan had violated its rights as a foreign investor stipulated in the Turkmenistan-Russia agreement signed in 2009 and expropriated the investments

Apr 10 — “The Russian mobile communications provider MTS has filed an extended lawsuit against Turkmenistan to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and demanded that Turkmenistan repay $1,5 billion despite the fact that the previous amount of the claim amounted to $750 million.” READ MORE: https://en.hronikatm.com/2019/04/mts-doubles-the-amount-of-financial-claim-against-turkmenistan/

UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan starts site selection process for first reactors

Uzbekistan’s planned nuclear power plant is expected to generate about 15% of Uzbekistan’s power needs by 2030

Apr 9 — “Uzbekistan has initiated the process to choose a site for its first nuclear power plant and aims to grant a site licence in September 2020, local officials have confirmed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Uzbekistan is among about 30 countries that are considering, planning or actively working to include nuclear power into their energy mix.” READ MORE: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Uzbekistan-starts-site-selection-process-for-first?feed=feed

How Uzbekistan plans to take on the world’s oil majors

The new chairman of Uzbekistan's state oil and gas company hopes a credit rating for the company will be a first step towards challenging the world’s energy majors

Apr 11 — “Uzbekistan’s state oil and gas company has a bold aim — to become the next Royal Dutch Shell or BP and join the ranks of the world’s energy majors. It is early days but Uzbekneftegaz, which contributes 15 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, has taken the first steps towards its ambitious goal by gaining the freedom from the government to act as an independent corporate entity.” READ MORE: https://www.ft.com/content/8f72ea08-401c-11e9-b896-fe36ec32aece

Former Uzbekistan’s Minister of Interior on Andijan events

In an interview, Zokirjon Almatov described the 2005 Andijan events as the most painful in his professional life

Apr 12 — “In March, Zokirjon Almatov, Uzbekistan’s first minister of interior from 1991-2005, gave his first interview to an independent Uzbek independent, Qalampir. The Diplomat reports in its article The Re-emergence of Uzbekistan’s First Minister of Interior that since Almatov’s return to government, at the beckoning of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in 2016, his public appearances have been frequent, but this interview is important for two reasons.” READ MORE: http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/Former-Uzbekistan’s-Minister-of-Interior-on-Andijan-events.html

Number of enterprises with foreign capital in Uzbekistan almost doubles

Most enterprises with foreign capital in Uzbekistan are from Russia and China

Apr 12 — “As of April 1, 2019, about a third of the operating enterprises with foreign capital in Uzbekistan falls on Russia and China, Trend reports with reference to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan.” READ MORE: https://en.trend.az/business/economy/3045328.html

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan Is Paying a Steep Price for its National Security Advisor's Behavior

An Afghan government official's public outbursts have cost him his political clout in the United States

Apr 7 — “During a visit last month to Washington, the Afghan government’s national security advisor, and former ambassador to the United States, threw a fit. During an official appearance at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and in private conversations during the same week, the thirty-six-year-old Hamdullah Mohib repeatedly excoriated the United States—and in particular, its special envoy for Afghanistan peace talks, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. His core charge was that Washington was going over the head of the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, to negotiate a peace deal directly with the Taliban.” READ MORE: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/afghanistan-paying-steep-price-its-national-security-advisors-behavior-50807

A VETERAN’S WAR MOVIE SHEDS DAMNING LIGHT ON HOW THE MARINES FIGHT IN AFGHANISTAN

In “Combat Obscura,” a new documentary set in Afghanistan, Marines also insult women, shake their weapons at children, die needlessly and with little dignity, murder innocent people and cover it up

Apr 7 — ““COMBAT OBSCURA” BEGINS with explosions. Half a second later, a great column of smoke materializes in the distance, quickly doubling and then tripling in size. But most frightening of all is what’s happening behind the camera. A man yells, in English, as the cloud grows past the top of the frame. “Holy shit,” he says. “That’s the wrong building!” Another explosion sounds, and a fireball billows. “Holy shit!” he yells again; he is gleeful, fascinated now. “Yeah, boy!” he shouts.” READ MORE: https://theintercept.com/2019/04/07/combat-obscura-afghanistan-war-documentary/

Afghanistan’s Media Self-Censors to Survive

Press freedom is at risk in Afghanistan, the deadliest country for journalists

Apr 10 — “The role Afghanistan’s vibrant media plays in public life represents one of the most significant changes that have taken place in the country since 2001. But that achievement is under threat, as journalists face growing intimidation and violence from both state and non-state actors.” READ MORE: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/11/afghanistans-media-self-censors-survive

Angelina Jolie: Why Women Are the Key to Lasting Peace in Afghanistan

Afghan women, who have the most to lose if the Taliban returns to power, currently have the least say in the process by which it may do so

Apr 10 — “When the Taliban seized power in 1996, it waged a war against Afghan women. Girls’ education was banned. Women were confined to the home and denied the right to work. They were flogged, beaten, mutilated and stoned to death for supposed immorality. This is not ancient history. These are living memories for millions of Afghans. And they have become present concerns, as U.S. government representatives negotiate with the Taliban about a settlement that could see it return to a position of power and influence in Afghanistan.” READ MORE: http://time.com/5566824/angelina-jolie-afghanistan-taliban-peace-negotiations-womens-rights/

WORLD

Central Asia has potential to attract $170 billion in FDI in 10 years

The Central Asia region holds two trump cards – an abundance of natural resources and young, growing and well-educated population

Apr 8 — “Although the Central Asian states still rely on extractive industries in attracting their biggest bulk of investment, the new reforms directed to diversify the economy have improved the business environment. In the next 10 years, the region has the potential to attract $170 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI), including $40-70 billion in non-extractive industries, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG’s) “Investing in Central Asia: One Region, Many Opportunities” report published Dec. 23.” READ MORE: https://astanatimes.com/2019/04/central-asia-has-potential-to-attract-170-billion-in-fdi-in-10-years/

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing China Sanctions

The U.S. failure to impose sanctions over China’s actions in Xinjiang—where it has forced up to a million Uighurs into internment camps—has been a big disappointment for the human rights community

Apr 11 — “Two human rights advocates who focus on China issues say they were told by U.S. officials last year that the Trump administration was preparing to impose sanctions on Beijing in December over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in the country’s western region of Xinjiang. The advocates were given to understand that the sanctions would fall under the Global Magnitsky Act, which enables the U.S. government to place travel bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers.” READ MORE: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/11/the-mysterious-case-of-the-disappearing-china-sanctions/

Uzbekistan: President's daughter appointed deputy head of state media agency

  • Written by TCA

TASHKENT (TCA) — The eldest daughter of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has been appointed deputy head of the newly established presidential Press and Information Agency that oversees communications and media regulation, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.

According to the agency’s statement on April 12, the chief of the presidential office, Zainilobiddin Nizomiddinov, said at an official gathering in Tashkent that Saida Mirziyoeva will be responsible for promoting “Uzbekistan's positive image abroad" and "coordination of state bodies' press services."

Mirziyoeva joins a cohort of offspring of Central Asian leaders given senior government posts.

Last month, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Darigha Nazarbayeva, was elected speaker of Kazakhstan's upper house of parliament a day after her father announced his resignation.

Mirziyoeva replaced a government official who was forced to take a leave of absence and was placed under police protection after she received death threats following an online post she made referring to polygamy and the Prophet Muhammad.

Mirziyoev established the Press and Information Agency in February, tasking it with coordinating communications by state bodies and safeguarding media freedoms.

The president has two daughters and a son.

Mirziyoev's second daughter, Shakhnoza, holds a midlevel post in the Preschool Education Ministry.

Little is known about Mirziyoev's son, Miralisher, other than that he is much younger than his sisters.

Mirziyoev took over leadership of Central Asia's most populous nation, with some 32 million people, in 2016 following the death of President Islam Karimov, who had run it for 27 years.

His elder son-in-law, Oybek Tursunov, is a deputy head of the presidential administration's directorate and the second son-in-law, Otabek Shakhanov, is the head of the presidential security services.

Afghanistan starts exploration for lithium to attract investment in its mining

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has started assessments in certain parts of the country to identify lithium deposits, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

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