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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

Kazakhstan: Borat creators' attempts to whip up fury achieve mixed results

Some social media users are angry, but officials are taking the high road, for now

Oct 3 — “The makers of the Borat sequel wanted to bait officials in Kazakhstan into a tetchy reaction for some free publicity. For now, the officials appear reluctant to comply. As part of pre-release publicity campaign, the marketers selling the film opened two social media accounts, on Instagram and Twitter, posing as representatives of the Kazakhstan government.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-borat-creators-attempts-to-whip-up-fury-achieve-mixed-results

Strengthening multidimensional ties between the European Union and the Republic of Kazakhstan during the presidency of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Kazakhstan is an important and trusted partner of the European Union. This is embodied in the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) with the EU, which entered into force on 1 March 2020, writes political adviser Ipek Tekdemir

Oct 7 — “The diplomatic relations between the EU and Kazakhstan have increasingly intensified throughout nearly three decades, and the EU member states have been among the first nations to recognize Kazakhstan as an independent state in 1991. The European Union opened its formal diplomatic representation in Kazakhstan shortly after, in 1994. Kazakhstan was the first nation among the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to establish a formal representation to the EU, which reflects the strength of the bond.” READ MORE: https://www.eureporter.co/eu-2/2020/10/07/strengthening-multidimensional-ties-between-the-european-union-and-the-republic-of-kazakhstan-during-the-presidency-of-kassym-jomart-tokayev/

Capital Market In Kazakhstan – Is There A Positive Outlook?

Kazakhstan realizes that it does not have any choice other than developing its economy through non-oil-based sources, such as a strong capital market

Oct 8 — “The recent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has not created new issues for Kazakhstan's economy, but it has uncovered the existing ones. Long before the pandemic it was already clear to the Government that "oil era" was coming to an end and new instruments needed to be developed to attract investment to the country. In response to this challenging reality, the Government will need to apply non - resource based means to boost the economy. Creating a strong capital market to attract regional and foreign investors to Kazakhstan is one such non - resource based measure.” READ MORE: https://www.mondaq.com/commoditiesderivativesstock-exchanges/992522/capital-market-in-kazakhstan-is-there-a-positive-outlook

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan’s Third Revolution

Kyrgyzstan’s main problem has never been how to encourage political pluralism or fostering a diverse and dynamic civil society. It is the persistent failure of building responsive state institutions capable of providing the most elementary public goods

Oct 8 — “Kyrgyzstan is again in turmoil following the country’s parliamentary elections on October 4. The day after the election, thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Bishkek to protest the outcome of what opposition leaders described as the dirtiest in the country’s history, ending in a violent showdown between riot police and demonstrators. The fighting went on long into the night, until the protesters overrun the police and seized the presidential palace and the parliament. State power collapsed in the blink of an eye. Now begins the hard part of bringing back law and order and finding a viable path forward. The outcome is genuinely uncertain. There are no boundaries for what kind of interests that can lay claim on political authority. Old and new politicians, criminal groups and political activists all try to fill the power vacuum.” READ MORE: http://cacianalyst.org/publications/analytical-articles/item/13643-kyrgyzstan’s-third-revolution.html

Kyrgyzstan: Politician’s mob rampage draws army onto the streets

The events in Bishkek today easily outstrip anything that has happened in this crisis to date

Oct 9 — “A convicted kidnapper’s attempt to engineer a seizure of power in Kyrgyzstan by unleashing destructive hordes upon the capital has taken an ominous turn. Sadyr Japarov’s supporters have assaulted journalists. His mobs broke up a peaceful rally by pelting participants with rocks and bottles. And one of his men attempted to assassinate a political opponent.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-politicians-mob-rampage-draws-army-onto-the-streets

Will Events in Kyrgyzstan Echo In Other Central Asian States?

Regional political experts on how the public reacted to events in Kyrgyzstan and how they could possibly echo in other Central Asian countries

Oct 9 — “CABAR.asia: How do public and state view the events unfolding in Kyrgyzstan? Baurzhan Tolegenov, political analyst (Kazakhstan): We do not observe prevailing judgment in public discourse. This is clearly conveyed in how people label the current social unrest in Kyrgyzstan. While the events of 2005 and 2010 were unambiguously deemed a revolution, now it ranges from a revolution to a coup. Some observers use a neutral wording – events in Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, enthusiasm dwindles as the political crisis unfolds and aggravates. To many, it may appear as if Kyrgyzstan is losing its image of an “island of democracy in Central Asia” and is now perceived as the country experiencing political turmoil and crisis of statehood. But civic activists in any case support the events in Kyrgyzstan, wherein it’s more of a lesson for the elites that demonstrates growing weary of the Establishment.” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/will-events-in-kyrgyzstan-echo-in-other-central-asian-states

TAJIKISTAN

What’s Important About Tajikistan’s Presidential Election?

What’s at stake in Tajikistan’s election isn’t the presidency, but what comes next

Oct 8 — “Kyrgyzstan’s election-induced semi-revolution has certainly occupied most Central Asian observers this week. But neighboring Tajikistan also has an election approaching, too. Tajikistan’s presidential election is scheduled for October 11. Tajikistan’s election will be nothing like the parliamentary polls in Kyrgyzstan. Where in Kyrgyzstan there are various nodes of power and an established precedent of street-protest driven revolutions, Tajikistan has but one node of power: Emomali Rahmon.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/whats-important-about-tajikistans-presidential-election/

Why Tajikistan’s president will win a fifth term

Emomali Rahmon has arrested or chased away any better candidates

Oct 9 — “Elections in Tajikistan are a staid affair compared with Kyrgyzstan’s. When voters go to the polls to elect a president on October 11th, the ballot paper will offer them a false choice: either tick the box next to the name of Emomali Rahmon, the strongman who has ruled for 28 years, or choose one of four stooges also on the ballot and watch Mr Rahmon storm to victory anyway. The only question is how big a landslide Mr Rahmon will award himself: it would be poor form if he did not better the 84% he won in 2013.” READ MORE: https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/10/10/why-tajikistans-president-will-win-a-fifth-term

Yet Another Election With Rahmon…

A glance at how the Tajik president has managed to stay in power for nearly three decades

Oct 9 — “Tajikistan will hold a tightly controlled presidential election on October 11 with five candidates in the race, including the incumbent, long-serving authoritarian Emomali Rahmon, who is running for office for the fifth time. The Tajik Constitution has been amended twice to make it possible for Rahmon to run so many times. Not a single election in which Rahmon claimed victory was deemed free, fair, or democratic by Western observers, who pointed out that Tajikistan has rarely allowed "real" opponents to run in its presidential races.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/30884643.html

TURKMENISTAN

Residents of Turkmenabat organize a protest following attempts of police officers to close a flea market

The ongoing economic crisis has forced ordinary Turkmen citizens to survive as they can

Oct 8 — “As has been previously reported, in connection with the economic slump flea markets selling second-hand clothes and other used goods have become popular in recent years in Turkmenistan. Radio “Azatlyk” reports that about a week ago a flea market appeared in one of the residential district of the city of Turkmenabat.” READ MORE: https://en.hronikatm.com/2020/10/residents-of-turkmenabat-organize-a-protest-following-attempts-of-police-officers-to-close-a-flea-market/

Turkmen President Replaces Several Officials, Regional Judges, Prosecutors

Berdymukhammedov has run the former Soviet republic since 2006, tolerating no dissent and becoming the center of an elaborate personality cult

Oct 9 — “Turkmenistan's authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has replaced several officials, regional judges, and prosecutors. According to state media reports, Berdymukhammedov sacked Mergen Gurdov from the post of the chairman of the State Migration Service; Bekmyrat Ovezov became the service's new chief. No explanation for the moves was given.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmen-president-replaces-several-officials-regional-judges-prosecutors/30884212.html

EBRD and EU help Turkmenistan polystyrene moulder maintain growth

In last three years, the EBRD and EU helped a Turkmen company introduce ISO 9001:2015, a quality standard required to start exporting its products to Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine, and provided support to introduce a financial reporting system in accordance with international principles

Oct 9 — “In Turkmenistan, a country highly reliant on oil and gas exports, thoughtful diversification of economic activity and the development of solid small and medium-sized enterprises is key to ensuring sustainable growth. Leveraging assistance from the EBRD and European Union (EU), the evolution of one local enterprise, Ak Hunji, struck the perfect balance between these priorities. Established in 2009, Ak Hunji (meaning ‘white beads’) is a leading company providing decorative mouldings, insulating panels and other building materials made of expanded polystyrene (EPS).” READ MORE: https://www.ebrd.com/news/2020/ebrd-and-eu-help-turkmenistan-polystyrene-moulder-maintain-growth-.html

UZBEKISTAN

Rehabilitation Here and Now: Pursuing Transitional Justice in Uzbekistan

Steve Swerdlow, a human rights lawyer, by providing a roadmap for transitional justice in Uzbekistan, examines the relevant international and domestic legal framework and summarizes attempts by former political prisoners to pursue their rehabilitation, and in so doing, a larger national conversation about Uzbekistan’s dark past

Oct 5 — “More often than democracy-watchers would like to acknowledge, the death of a dictator usually does little to fundamentally change the nature of a political system. Think Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in 2000, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il in 2011, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez in 2013. But in certain rare cases, it can lead to concrete improvements in the lives of millions of ordinary people. Some have argued this occurred—at least in part and for a time—in the case of Josef Stalin’s death in 1953. It most certainly happened in August 2016 with the death of Islam Karimov, whose ruthless 27-year reign (1989-2016) in Uzbekistan became synonymous with the worst forms of repression, torture, and political imprisonment.” READ MORE: https://cabar.asia/en/rehabilitation-here-and-now-pursuing-transitional-justice-in-uzbekistan

AFC CAPITAL: Uzbekistan’s “Golden Cross”

In Uzbekistan the key central bank interest rate has crossed the dividend return curve, which often means the market is about to dramatically re-rate

Oct 6 — “A “golden cross” is a chart technical analysis term in the investment industry referring to when the short-term moving average of a security crosses over a major long-term moving average, to the upside. Commonly, this is the 50-day moving average crossing above the 100 or 200 day-moving average, indicating bullish momentum and the start of an uptrend from a conservative standpoint as the uptrend would likely already be weeks old at this point.” READ MORE: https://intellinews.com/afc-capital-uzbekistan-s-golden-cross-193522/?source=uzbekistan

In Unprecedented Lawsuits, Former Uzbek Political Prisoners Seek Compensation From Tashkent

Since President Shavkat Mirziyoev came to power in 2016, Uzbekistan has released more than 50 political prisoners

Oct 9 — “Two former political prisoners in Uzbekistan are demanding financial compensation from the government over “unjust convictions” and the suffering they endured in the country’s notorious Jaslyk Prison. In the unprecedented civil lawsuits filed by two residents of Qashqadaryo Province, Chuyan Mamatkulov is demanding about $50,000 and Elyor Tursunov is seeking $20,000 in damages.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/in-unprecedented-lawsuits-former-uzbek-political-prisoners-seek-compensation-from-tashkent/30884276.html

AFGHANISTAN

As Kabul Backs Azerbaijan In Conflict With Armenia, Afghans Recall Fighting In Previous War

While far from being materially involved in the current war over Nagorno-Karabakh, Kabul still supports Baku's position, which sees Yerevan as occupying its territory — a position also recognized internationally

Oct 7 — “Mohammad Younas is nostalgic about his time fighting with Azerbaijani forces in the war against Armenians for the Nagorno-Karabakh territory in the early 1990s. "If possible, I would again join the Muslims of Azerbaijan to defend them against non-Muslims," he said, alluding to the predominantly Muslim country in its battle with Armenian forces, who are mainly Orthodox Christians. The conflict between the South Caucasian neighbors has never been considered a religious one.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/as-kabul-backs-azerbaijan-in-conflict-with-armenia-afghans-recall-fighting-in-previous-war/30880802.html

Afghanistan’s Economy – and Access to Aid – at Stake in Peace Talks

Will the Taliban and the Afghan government come to terms in time to rescue the country’s fledgling economy?

Oct 8 — “The 2020 Afghanistan Conference, to be hosted jointly by Finland, the United Nations and the government of Afghanistan, is scheduled to taken place in Geneva on November 23 and 24. This ministerial conference will decide how much financial assistance Afghanistan will need from 2021 to 2024 in order to help move it toward peace, prosperity and self-reliance. Four years ago, in October 2016, at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, the United States and other international donors committed to provide Afghanistan $15.2 billion in civilian assistance through 2020, according to a U.S. Department of State Fact Sheet.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/afghanistans-economy-and-access-to-aid-at-stake-in-peace-talks/

A New Generation Fights for Afghanistan

Ahmad Massoud, 31, commands anti-Taliban fighters 19 years after his legendary father’s assassination

Oct 9 — “The explosion occurred a few hours earlier. A suicide car bomber double-parked on a shopping street. When the convoy passed carrying Vice President Amrullah Saleh, known for his anti-Taliban militancy, the driver pulled up alongside Mr. Saleh’s armored car. Ten people were killed and 15 wounded. The vice president survived with burns to his hands and face. Thank you, Taliban. A fine affirmation of the commitment you made in advance of the peace talks that will begin in Doha, Qatar, the day after the Kabul bombing, to cease what you have the temerity to call “the fighting.” READ MORE: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-generation-fights-for-afghanistan-11602265383

WORLD

China business briefing: Mooove over, Australia

Kazakhstan’s food producers look primed to benefit from China’s increasingly tense relationship with traditional trading partners. This and more in Eurasianet's monthly Chinese business briefing

Oct 7 — “Economic historians are going to look back at the era of coronavirus and see more of a rollercoaster than a nosedive. While Kazakhstan’s economy suffers with the rest of the world’s, the country’s exports to China grew significantly in August, according to the latest data from Beijing. Compared to last August, Kazakh shippers sent off more chemicals (up threefold to $151 million), tobacco (almost 15 times more to $2 million), cotton (doubled to $1.8 million) and a bumper crop of diverse victuals worth $24 million. Overall, Chinese-bound exports grew 20 percent year-over-year to $881 million.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/china-business-briefing-mooove-over-australia

Indians and Central Asians Are the New Face of the Islamic State

Terrorists from India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan were never at the forefront of global jihad before—now they are

Oct 8 — “As white nationalists across the world have gained prominence through racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic acts, the world’s focus on terrorism seems to have shifted. Many experts on extremism now focus heavily on the far-right in its many incarnations as an important driver of terrorist threat. But this myopic approach ignores the dynamism that the Islamic State injected into the international jihadist movement, and the long-term repercussions of the networks it built. In particular, the Indian and Central Asian linkages that the group fostered are already having repercussions beyond the region.” READ MORE: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/08/isis-indian-kyrgyzstan-tajikistan-uzbekistan-central-asians-are-the-new-face-of-islamic-state/

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