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Kyrgyzstan expects economic growth due to short-term factors in 2019 — EDB

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Macroeconomic Review prepared by the Directorate for Research at the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) forecasts Kyrgyzstan’s medium-term economic growth at 3.5–3.9%, the Bank said on April 11.

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WHO welcomes Turkmenistan efforts to popularize healthy lifestyle

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — The high-level European conference “Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases” was held in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat this week under the World Health Organization (WHO) aegis, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

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Afghanistan: Taliban announce ‘ban’ on WHO and Red Cross

  • Written by TCA

KABUL (TCA) — The Taliban have announced a “ban” on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in areas the extremist group controls in Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported.

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Uzbekistan rejects allegations of torture against former chief prosecutor

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbek authorities have rejected Amnesty International's allegations that former Prosecutor-General Rashidjon Qodirov, who is on trial on corruption charges, is at risk of being subjected to torture, RFE/RL reports.

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Kazakhstan: Government reports steady economic growth in first quarter

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s First President and Elbasy (Leader of the Nation) Nursultan Nazarbayev chaired a meeting of the Security Council on April 10 to review the results of the country's socio-economic development in the first quarter of this year, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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Kazakhstan: Ruling party expected to announce presidential candidate on April 23

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan's ruling Nur Otan party will nominate its candidate for a snap presidential election in less than two weeks, RFE/RL reported.

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Uzbekistan and Austria expand economic cooperation

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Tashkent hosted a regular meeting of Uzbekistan–Austria Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation on April 9, the Jahon information agency reported.

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

  • Written by Peter Leonard

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — With the announcement of a snap presidential election in Kazakhstan, the power transition game has drawn closer to its culmination. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Peter Leonard*, originally published by Eurasianet:

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.

When Kazakhstan goes to the polls on June 9, the list of options will be very short. It always is. When Nursultan Nazarbayev got 97.5 percent of the vote in April 2015, his only opponents were a pair of faceless nobodies.

Initial indications are that the plan is for the new man to be eased into elected high office with similar smoothness. Tokayev attributed the hasty vote to a desire to spare the country the anxiety of not knowing what comes next.

“In order to ensure social and political harmony, to confidently move forward, to address the demands of social and economic development, it is necessary to get rid of any uncertainty,” he said during the April 9 televised address.

In a message distributed via the Telegram app after the announcement, Tokayev’s recently appointed advisor, Yerlan Karin, reiterated the point and sought to impress the democratic nature of the planned election.

“It is not by chance that the head of state emphasized that ‘the president will be elected according to the will of the people.’ This is a key passage in his address,” Karin wrote.

And yet, the rules are such that very few people will be able to get over the multiple hurdles placed before prospective candidates. Only officially registered political parties and public organizations may put a person forward. All groups critical of the authorities have been categorically denied such registration, so government-detractors are shut out by default.

What is more, candidates should in theory be nominated by their backers no later than two months before the vote. Tokayev’s last-minute declaration elicited indignation for that reason.

“What open elections are we talking about if political parties and public organizations have just a little more than one day to put forward their presidential candidate? Under our laws, self-nominated candidates are barred from running,” journalist Vyacheslav Abramov wrote on Twitter.

If candidates are not nominated before the deadline, however, election officials will grant another extension of up to 20 days.

Should the plan be for him to run, Tokayev’s nomination is a given. That endorsement would invariably come from the ruling Nur-Otan party.

Aikyn Konurov, the head of the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan faction in parliament, was quick to express his readiness to compete. Konurov is a lawmaker with little public profile and his party is an ersatz left-wing political formation, so his candidacy or that of a similar figure would serve the traditional function of creating the impression of competition.

William Courtney, a former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, lamented that the way the election had been announced was a blow for democracy.

“Snap election in Kazakhstan allows little time for prominent leaders with independent political bases to organize candidacies [and] appeal for public support. People of this great country deserve better than another dishonest election,” Courtney wrote on Twitter.

There had been speculation among hobbyist tea leaf-readers that Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, 55, was being lined up to take up the presidency. But her assistant swiftly scotched that idle chatter on April 9.

“No, Dariga Nursultanovna has no intention to run,” her assistant, Saule Mustafayeva, said in succinct remarks to Tengri News.

Nazarbayeva will remain an intensely scrutinized figure for years to come, however.

Shortly after Nazarbayev announced his retirement last month, he was replaced, in line with the constitution, by the Senate speaker, Tokayev. That seat was then filled by Nazarbayeva, who now serves in effect as reserve president.

In a comment given to Eurasianet before Tokayev’s announcement, opposition politician Amirzhan Kosanov leaned toward ruling out a Nazarbayeva run for office.

“The dynastic variation could provoke protest not just in society but also among the in-fighting clans, which also include other members of the Nazarbayev family. In that respect, Tokayev can be seen by Nazarbayev as a transition president,” Kosanov said.

This latter remark reflects the continued role that Nazarbayev will play in running the show from behind the scenes. As lifelong chairman of the Security Council, Nazarbayev retains wide-ranging powers and an important stake in policymaking. The presidential administration website continues even now to feature updates on what the former president is doing.

A strict interpretation of the constitution should, theoretically, also rule out Tokayev, since one article in the document states that candidates must have spent the last 15 years “living on the territory of Kazakhstan.” From 2011 to 2013, Tokayev lived in Geneva while serving as director-general of the United Nations office there.
Such fine legalities are unlikely to derail things. The glimmers of politicking make it clear that Tokayev is looking to hang around.

In one notable executive decision this week, Tokayev revealed that he was behind the idea of putting on hold a long-gestating project to build a highly contentious ski resort. The Kok-Zhailau initiative had met stiff resistance among vocal sections of civil society concerned about its likely detrimental impact on the environment.

“This was a good political maneuver, which will give Tokayev a significant edge in the eyes of the electorate,” Kazbek Beisebayev, a retired veteran diplomat, told Eurasianet.

Beisebayev also pointed to the recent easing on the periodic blocks on social media websites, which have generated much grumbling.

And on March 22, in what looks like electioneering-before-the-fact, Tokayev ordered a wage hike for government employees planned for July 1 to be brought forward to June 1.

“This decision will directly affect the lives of more than 1 million citizens and government servants,” he tweeted.

In the unlikely looking event that Tokayev is not confirmed as president by the ruling elite, the chances of a genuinely competitive contest are anyway all but nonexistent. Political analyst Dosym Satpayev echoed many a jaded observer’s cynicism with his tweet.

“In some countries, the intrigue is all about who will win the election. Here, the intrigue is who will be appointed to win the ‘election,’” he wrote.

* Peter Leonard is Eurasianet’s Central Asia editor

Water saving eco-marathons start in Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Within the framework of the first eco-marathon UzWaterAware funded by the EU, with the use of water-saving technologies in Kokand (Fergana region) several events were held at once, including master classes on planting 2,000 trees with the use of a “hydrogel”, which allows saving about 50% of water during irrigation, the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan said on April 9.

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Tajikistan: Former opposition member jailed for 15 years after return from Russia

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — A court in Tajikistan has sentenced a former member of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) to 15 years in prison after a controversial extremism trial, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

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Uzbekistan: Former chief prosecutor at risk of torture while on trial, Amnesty says

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Amnesty International says former Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashidjon Qodirov who is on trial on corruption charges is at risk of being subjected to torture, RFE/RL reported.

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Kazakhstan: Snap presidential election scheduled for June 9

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan will hold a snap presidential election on June 9, the interim head of state Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has announced, moving the vote up by almost a year following Nursultan Nazarbayev's resignation last month after 30 years in power, RFE/RL reported.

In a televised address to the nation on April 9, Toqaev said he would "guarantee a free and fair election," though no vote held in the Central Asian country since the Soviet collapse of 1991 has been deemed democratic by international observers.

Toqaev said that he made the decision to hold an early election after discussing the issue with Nazarbayev — referring to the ex-president as Elbasy, or Leader of the Nation, a title bestowed upon him by the loyal parliament in 2010.

The early election appears aimed at shortening the political transition period and decreasing the chances of instability following the abrupt resignation of Nazarbayev, 78, who had been president since 1990 and remains chairman of the ruling party and the influential Security Council.

No date for the vote had been set but it had been expected to be held in April 2020, five years after the previous presidential election.

"In order to secure social and political accord, confidently move forward, and deal with the tasks of socioeconomic development, it is necessary to eliminate any uncertainty," Toqaev said in his address.

Toqaev did not say whether he would run in the election, but he would not have been expected to do so in the speech because presidential candidates can only be nominated by nationwide organizations such as political parties.

It was not immediately clear whether Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Darigha Nazarbayeva, who heads the upper parliament house and has been seen as a possible successor, would run in the election.

An aide, Saule Mustafaeva, said that she was not planning to run, but Nazarbayeva herself did not confirm that in a brief comment, saying only that anyone can run and that it is up to political parties to nominate candidates.

Both Toqaev and Nazarbayeva are members of Nur Otan.

The announcement of a vote in two months leaves potential opponents of a ruling-party candidate with little time to mount campaigns, reducing their chances in a country where opposition has been marginalized and politics is still dominated by Nazarbayev.

Dutch company expands greenhouse project in Kazakhstan

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The second stage of a greenhouse project by the Dutch company Food Ventures has been launched in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe province, Kazakh Invest national investment promotion company reported.

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EBRD, EIB and EU support water supply improvements in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The city of Kyzyl-Kiya, with a population of over 45,000 people in the Batken oblast in southern Kyrgyzstan, will have regular access to safe drinking water thanks to financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU), and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

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Uzbekistan joins China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway corridor

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — A meeting of representatives of the railway administrations of Kazakhstan, China, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on the further development of cargo transportation along the common international transport corridor was held in Almaty last week, the press service of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railways company reported.

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Kazakhstan hosts meeting on China–Europe-China rail transportation

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — The fourth meeting of the Joint working group on the organization of transportation by container trains along China–Europe-China route was held in Almaty last week. The meeting was attended by representatives of the railway administrations of Kazakhstan, China, Belarus, Germany, Mongolia, Poland and Russia, the press-service of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railways company reported.

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Afghanistan: Kabul to send delegates to 'exchange views' with Taliban in Qatar

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan will send a government delegation for talks with the Taliban in Qatar, in a potential breakthrough in efforts to end the nearly 18-year war, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

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Uzbekistan to develop chemical industry, make it attractive to investors

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan plans to invest 12.1 billion U.S. dollars to develop the country's aging chemical industry over a period of ten years and sell off state shares in a number of chemical enterprises, Xinhua news agency reported with reference to the Uzbek president’s decree published last week.

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Kazakhstan aims to increase agricultural exports to Muslim countries

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture has prepared road maps that will allow Kazakhstan enterprises to enter foreign markets with a wider range of products, Deputy Agriculture Minister Gulmira Issayeva told a press conference last week, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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Xinjiang building slaughterhouse to import live cattle from Kazakhstan

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Construction of a slaughterhouse has begun in Alashankou in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, making the inland port the region's first to import live cattle directly from Kazakhstan, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

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China will have military bases in Central Asia within five years, Russian expert says

  • Written by Paul Goble

BISHKEK (TCA) — Until recently, China’s expansion in Central Asia has been limited to the economic and cultural spheres, but now Beijing is likely to shift to establishing a military presence in the region. We are republishing the following article on the issue, written by Paul Goble:

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Weekly Digest of Central Asia

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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: A new dawn?

Nazarbayev’s resignation has been masterfully executed. In so doing he eases the pressure on him to go and only enshrines more deeply the powers to which he has grown accustomed

April 1 — “Nursultan Nazarbayev’s strong and sombre governance has long set him apart in a region of crumbling dictatorships. Recently Kazakhstan’s leader opened a surprise new chapter in his country’s history; resigning from the Presidency after three decades to assume his new position of Chairman of the Security Council and leader of the ruling party.” READ MORE: https://globalriskinsights.com/2019/04/kazakhstan-nazarbayev-central-asia-new-dawn/

Huge fish die-off in Kazakhstan’s Ural River fuels fear for future stocks

Ecologists say that the waste chemicals of Atyrau Oil Refinery, built in 1991 around 2.5 kilometers from the riverbank, contributed to the deaths of the fish

April 3 — “When Nursultan Tauman went out for a stroll along the banks of the Ural River, he could not believe what he saw. “Dead fish, floating on the dirty river,” recalled Tauman, a native of the western Kazakhstan city of Atyrau, where the 2,500-kilometer Ural enters the Caspian Sea. Since December, more than 120 tons of lifeless fish have washed ashore on the banks of the Atyrau delta. The massive die-off has stunned ecologists and sparked a debate about what might be the root cause.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/huge-fish-die-off-in-kazakhstans-ural-river-fuels-fear-for-future-stocks

The nuclear sins of the Soviet Union live on in Kazakhstan

Decades after nuclear weapons testing stopped, researchers are still struggling to decipher the health impacts of radiation exposure around Semipalatinsk

April 3 — “The statues of Lenin are weathered and some are tagged with graffiti, but they still stand tall in the parks of Semey, a small industrial city tucked in the northeast steppe of Kazakhstan. All around the city, boxy Soviet-era cars and buses lurch past tall brick apartment buildings and cracked walkways, relics of a previous regime.” READ MORE: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01034-8

In Kazakhstan, transgender people face discrimination

In Kazakhstan, transgender persons have the right to surgical procedures to change their sex – but little access to other rights

April 4 — “In Kazakhstan, a transgender woman has filed a legal case against the country’s largest bank, whose manager refused to serve her when she presented ID with a male name on it. Of course, the situation in terms of LGBT rights, and transgender people in particular, is much better in Kazakhstan than, for example, Chechnya, where people are openly persecuted. But as across Central Asia, the rights and freedoms of LGBT people are restricted by law in Kazakhstan.” READ MORE: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/kazakhstan-transgender-discrimination-ru-en/

KYRGYZSTAN

Putin's Visit to Kyrgyzstan Bolsters Integration in Eurasia

Russia is not only one of Kyrgyzstan’s largest trade and economic partners and investors, but also its main military and strategic ally

April 2 — “Russian-Kyrgyz relations have been making steady progress in general. However, over the past several years, bilateral cooperation has been marred by a number of negative trends. First, the initial benefits Kyrgyzstan derived from joining the EAEU have already had their effect. These included resolving the bulk of issues with migrant workers; redistributing revenue from customs duties in the Union, which replenished the Kyrgyz budget; expanding trade with Russia and Kazakhstan; and receiving a number of financial subsidies for building the customs, sanitary and economic infrastructure.” READ MORE: http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/putins-visit-to-kyrgyzstan/

A Spring Split for Kyrgyzstan’s Major Party?

The first of two rival party congresses on April 3 set up Kyrgyzstan’s biggest political party for a genuine split

April 3 — “Kyrgyzstan’s dominant political party is splitting. With parliamentary elections expected in October 2020, the shattering of the Social Democratic Party (SDPK) has implications for the balance of power in the state. In the first of two competing party congresses this week, on April 3 the SDPK Without Atambayev movement gathered 300 delegates in Bishkek to break with former President Almazbek Atambayev.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/a-spring-split-for-kyrgyzstans-major-party/

Kyrgyzstan: Former president on verge of losing immunity

According to the new law, the Parliament will now have the right to strip former presidents of immunity

April 4 — “Parliament in Kyrgyzstan has adopted legislation making it possible for former presidents to be stripped of immunity should they engage in political activity. Of the120 lawmakers in the Jogorku Kenesh, 111 voted on April 4 in favor of the change to the law. The stripping of immunity is a transparently ad personam measure aimed at ex-President Almazbek Atambayev, who has over the past year or so engaged in a losing battle of attrition with his successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-former-president-on-verge-of-losing-immunity

TAJIKISTAN

The Deeper Meaning of China’s Base in Tajikistan

Chinese military and security measures are a challenge to Russian pillars of power in Central Asia

April 2 — “It is au courant among analysts and scholars to compare modern-day China to early 20th-century Germany, in that it too is a rising power that desires a larger role for itself in world affairs. But a better comparison might be with the United States of the late 19th-early 20th century. The US of that era presented itself as non-interventionist, but it also proclaimed a “manifest destiny” to expand its influence.” READ MORE: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/china-base-tajikistan/

Tajik Pop Star Fined $530 For Asking Friends To Birthday Party

The law on private celebrations was passed in 2007 to discourage lavish spending on weddings and other events in the impoverished Central Asian country

April 3 — “Tajikistan has fined a pop star for holding a birthday at home with friends rather than family members only as required by a restrictive law on private celebrations. State prosecutors said singer Firuza Hafizova was fined $530 for violating the law after a video emerged of her dancing at home with friends.” READ MORE: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/tajik-pop-star-firuza-hafizova-fined-530-for-asking-friends-to-birthday-party-2017388

In Tajikistan, Christians are government targets

In Tajikistan, pressure on Christians comes mostly from the government, but also the wider Muslim society

April 4 — “Pressure continues to build on Christians in Tajikistan. In the latest encounter, officials burned more than 5,000 Christian calendars. They also told parents not to bring kids under 10 years old to “religious meetings” – a broad category that could include church services.” READ MORE: https://www.mnnonline.org/news/in-tajikistan-christians-are-government-targets/

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan: Third time lucky?

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

April 2 — “Alexei Miller, the head of Russia’s state-owned gas behemoth Gazprom, is becoming a familiar figure around Ashgabat. For the third time in the space of six months, Miller on March 27 visited Turkmenistan’s capital in what looks like yet another attempt to revive the supplies of Turkmen gas to Russia. It had been hoped the deliveries might start up again in January, but that came to naught.” READ MORE: https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-third-time-lucky

Joke In Turkmenistan Goes Too Far For Women Drivers Facing Unofficial Ban

There is no official law or decree against female drivers or legislative obstacles preventing them from obtaining licenses, but women in Turkmenistan have been complaining for years about the discrimination from authorities when it comes to them operating vehicles

April 2 — “A government-run news agency in Turkmenistan has published an April Fool's Day cartoon that mocks women drivers. For hundreds of women in Turkmenistan who've had their driving licenses confiscated by police in an unofficial crackdown against female drivers, it is no laughing matter.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmenistan-women-drivers-joke-facing-unofficial-ban/29857453.html

Another Turkmen Pipe Mystery

More than a year after Ashgabat announced its section of the TAPI natural-gas pipeline was done, state company Turkmengaz is still ordering sections for the project

April 4 — “Turkmenistan has been purchasing a lot of pipeline segments for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural-gas pipeline project lately.
Which is interesting, because the head of the TAPI Pipeline Company said in February 2018 that the Turkmen section, which runs more than 200 kilometers, was completed.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-tapi-turkmen-pipe-mystery/29862029.html

UZBEKISTAN

Ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan’s Energy sector

The President’s Resolution introduces significant changes in the structure of energy administration of Uzbekistan by reorganizing or liquidating certain existing bodies and establishing new entities

April 1 — “Uzbekistan continues to undertake measures to enhance the legal and institutional framework of the country’s energy sector. On March 27, 2019, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the Resolution “On strategy for further development and reform of the electric energy sector of the Republic of Uzbekistan.” READ MORE: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ongoing-reforms-in-uzbekistan-s-energy-95831/

Legislative Changes to Improve Business Climate in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is taking measures to improve its business climate and attract more foreign investment

April 2 — “Uzbekistan aims to increase its overall ranking in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report from the latest 76th to the 20th position by 2022 (Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PP-4160) and continues to adopt measures to enhance its business environment. Currently, the country is bringing its legislation into conformity with these measures.” READ MORE: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/legislative-changes-to-improve-business-76037/

Evicted without warning: sudden Tashkent demolitions spark anger

Controversial regeneration projects in Uzbekistan have cost thousands their homes – but have also sparked an unprecedented burst of grassroots activism

April 2 — “It was the middle of the afternoon when a demolition crew got to work on the three-floor residential building in the centre of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Usually there would be nothing untoward about this – but eight of the flats were still occupied.” READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/apr/02/evicted-without-warning-demolitions-spark-activism-in-tashkent-uzbekistan

Uzbekistan Praised For Curtailing Forced Labor In Cotton Harvest. Activists Say Not So Fast

Uzbek and Western rights activists say that while forced child labor has dramatically decreased in Uzbekistan, there's still a significant level of forced labor involving adults

April 4 — “In Uzbekistan, it's called white gold -- cotton, one of the country's most important cash-crop exports. For decades, hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks have been forced to do the annual backbreaking work of harvesting the crop. Last year, according to the International Labor Organization, around 170,000 people were forced to pick cotton, a sizable number but one the agency says showed "major progress" in eliminating the problem.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/uzbek-cotton-harvest-forced-labor/29862119.html

AFGHANISTAN

Ashraf Ghani's grand plan for sustainable peace in Afghanistan

The deputy spokesperson to the president of Afghanistan says that the Afghan president has a plan that would deliver not only peace but also justice, equality and development

April 3 — “Peace, once seen as an impossible prospect, has now become part of the national discourse in Afghanistan. Last month, for example, around 3,500 women from all ethnic and linguistic groups in the country issued a joint communique calling for a peace in which Afghan women would not be subjected to the horrors of the Taliban era once again.” READ MORE: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/ashraf-ghani-grand-plan-sustainable-peace-afghanistan-190402101100457.html

Left Out: Afghanistan Watches Its Own Peace Process From The Sidelines

The Taliban has refused to negotiate with Ghani's administration, calling it a U.S. "puppet"

April 3 — “When the United States' special representative for Afghan reconciliation arrived in Kabul this week amid ongoing peace talks with the Taliban, the country's national-unity government was in disarray. Zalmay Khalilzad met with the leaders of the government, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, separately on April 1: Ghani with his running mate in the upcoming elections; and Abdullah, the de facto prime minister, with the country's foreign minister, an electoral ally.” READ MORE: https://www.rferl.org/a/left-out-afghanistan-watches-its-own-peace-process-from-the-sidelines/29859400.html

IS, Taliban Fight Displaces 1000s in Eastern Afghanistan

Clashes between the Taliban, IS and the Afghan security forces are a continuing issue in eastern Afghanistan, particularly in Nangarhar province

April 4 — “In Afghanistan, fighting between Islamic State militants and Taliban insurgents has displaced over 20,000 people in eastern Kunar province recently, according to U.N. officials. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Thursday that 3,000 families fled their homes, and warned the situation could escalate as the warring sides mobilize more fighters.” READ MORE: https://www.voanews.com/a/islamic-state-taliban-fight-displaces-thousands-in-eastern-afghanistan/4863010.html

Why Is Zalmay Khalilzad Such a Controversial Figure in Afghanistan?

President Trump’s Afghan peace envoy is an extremely disputed figure in Afghanistan

April 4 — “When the name Zalmay Khalilzad appeared on the news as a potential nominee for President Trump’s Afghan peace initiative, different reactions surfaced. Some non-Afghan commentators, though not all, welcomed his appointment given his impressive background. Yet, inside Afghanistan, Khalilzad’s appointment was not much welcomed. Indeed, a group of Afghan political activists set up a petition to urge the U.S. government to reconsider their decision given Khalilzad’s “ethnonationalism motivated” prior conduct in Afghanistan, as the petition put it.” READ MORE: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/why-is-zalmay-khalilzad-such-a-controversial-figure-in-afghanistan/

WORLD

China’s plan for railway to Uzbekistan is transforming Central Asian geopolitics

China is competing with Russia for greater influence on Central Asia countries, using infrastructure and transport investment and projects to achieve that goal

March 31 — “Chinese plans to construct a railway from Xinjiang through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan and onward to Turkmenistan will, if realized, transform the geopolitical situation in the region. This rail corridor promises to open up new possibilities for regional countries to bypass Russia in pursuit of foreign markets. And if completed, this railway will accelerate China’s gradual displacement of Russia as the dominant power in post-Soviet Central Asia, particularly given that Beijing has already demonstrated its willingness to use its economic might to extract political concessions from governments there. Finally, this railway will reduce Chinese dependence on routes passing through Russia, thus increasing Beijing’s freedom of action.” READ MORE: https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/21002-china-s-plan-for-railway-to-uzbekistan-is-transforming-central-asian-geopolitics

Re-navigating the lands of Central Asia

Nations both within and beyond Central Asia are now beginning to band together to address environmental and related socioeconomic issues

April 2 — “The five countries of Central Asia comprise one of the world’s most vulnerable and rapidly degrading areas in the world. Across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, lands once wealthy on the route of the Silk Road are now prone to desertification, soil erosion, salinization and forest loss, incurring huge costs financially and on the livelihoods of the region’s rural poor.” READ MORE: https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/33773/re-navigating-the-lands-of-central-asia/

China and Russia are not breaking up anytime soon

The biggest strategic misread in Washington is about the other great powers — China and Russia

April 3 — “Two weeks ago, I was in Moscow for a conference — part of a series — on the future of the Russian-American relationship. One of my takeaways from that meeting was that the state of the bilateral relationship is pretty bad and the best that anyone could hope for in the next few years was not making anything worse. And no, Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the special counsel’s report does not alter that conclusion.” READ MORE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/04/03/china-russia-are-not-breaking-up-anytime-soon/?utm_term=.2717f5c6e4d0

US-Kyrgyzstan partnership against tuberculosis paves way to end epidemic

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — On April 5, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced break-through progress in their fight against tuberculosis, an infectious disease that kills 500 people every year in the country, the US Embassy in Bishkek said.

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Kyrgyzstan and EU take stock of development cooperation, investment

  • Written by TCA

BISHKEK (TCA) — The meeting of EU-Kyrgyzstan Sub-Committee on Development took place for the second time in Bishkek on 4 April, the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic reported.

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American company to build a hybrid breeding center in Kazakhstan

  • Written by TCA

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — AGCO, an American transnational company, will build a modern hybrid breeding center, a feed mixing plant and a feed yard in partnership with a Kazakh company in the Pavlodar region, Kazakh Invest national investment promotion company said.

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