EurasiaNet (46)

Kyrgyzstan: Notorious High-Ranking Customs Official Fired

A notorious high-ranking customs official in Kyrgyzstan has been fired in a dramatic personnel reshuffle that comes weeks after Kazakhstan complained about the volume of contraband goods flooding in from its southern neighbor. Prime Minister Sapar Isakov signed the order to dismiss Customs Service ...

Uzbekistan Strikes Multibillion Dollar Deals in Korea, Seeks Mining Help

In his latest foray in the mission to reopen his nation to the world, Uzbekistan's president embarked this week on a state visit to South Korea, where he has sealed $8.9 billion in commercial agreements. Shavkat Mirziyoyev's office said in a statement that the 75 deals covered interests in ...

Counter Terrorism Operation in Georgia Turns into Deadly Firefight

A counter terrorism operation launched by Georgia's State Security Service turned into a deadly firefight on the capital's outskirts. In the early hours of November 22, a counter-terrorism unit of the SSG launched an offensive against what authorities called terrorist suspects in an apartment ...

Tajikistan: President Seizes on Audiobook Fad

The president of Tajikistan appears to be seizing on the audiobook fad now proving such a boon to the publishing industry by requiring national broadcasters to read out his written works on the air. Asia-Plus newspaper this week cited the head of state-run Tajikistan radio station, Farruh Ziyoyev, ...

Kazakhstan: Mystery Luxury Paris Apartment Buyers Eludes Investigators

Even after a week of inquiries, investigators in Kazakhstan appear to be no closer to discovering the identity of the buyer of a 65 million euro apartment in Paris. Real estate insiders have said the property was sold to a Kazakh government official, but declined to provide a name. This week, it ...

Afghanistan Betting on Transit Corridor to Europe via Caucasus

Eurasia has no shortage of ambitious, difficult-to-implement transit route projects in the works. But even in that crowded field, a $2 billion corridor connecting Afghanistan to Europe via the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus stands out. On November 15, officials from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, ...

Georgia's David Lynch Moment

David Lynch paying an official visit' to the Georgian parliament, meeting lawmakers and government ministers, and expounding on the merits of a silent mantra could have been a scene out of one of his surrealist films. Except, it actually just happened and Georgian legislators have a group photo to ...

US Approves Long-Sought Sale of Anti-Tank Missiles to Georgia

The State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. The approval is a big win for Tbilisi, which for years has sought the American weapons as a means of protecting itself from a potential Russian invasion. The U.S. approved the sale of 410 of the missiles and 72 ...

Georgia's Baby Boom and the Union of Church and Birthrate

To mark St. George's Day this week, the head of Georgia's Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II will baptize nearly 700 children in a mass ceremony. It will be the 51st such mass baptism he has carried out since 2008. And according to a new study, the Patriach's involvement has had a measurable, ...

Tajikistan: Marriage Folds Northern Elite Into Presidential Family

Given the highly regionalized nature of power dynamics in Tajikistan, this weekend's marriage between a granddaughter of the president and the son of an influential northern family is worthy of note. Sources in the northern city of Khujand told EurasiaNet.org that the marriage took place on November ...

Kyrgyzstan: Outgoing President Pledges to Continue Playing Role in Politics

Kyrgyzstan's president has in his final press conference before leaving office dangled the prospect that he may run for parliament as the list-topping candidate for the ruling Social Democratic Party, or SDPK. I don't plan to become chairman of parliament or the government, or even a member of ...

Uzbekistan: Devout Muslims Targeted in Sweeps

A rights group in Uzbekistan has reported that police have over the past week been raiding the homes of families known for their devout Islamic beliefs. Surat Ikramov, head of the Tashkent-based Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders, said in a statement on Facebook on November 20 ...

Tajikistan Partially Bans Combat Sports

Authorities in Tajikistan have imposed a de facto ban on multiple types of combat sports and are instead proposing popularizing gushtingiri,' a national marital art. The highly confusing list of proscribed sports, as listed on the the State Committee for Youth and Sport website, comprises ...

Tajikistan: Russia Shows Off Jeweler-Like Accuracy of Iskander-M Missile

Ten-day military exercises in Tajikistan by a Moscow-led security alliance have seen the renewed deployment of a short-range ballistic missile system recently introduced to the region. TASS news agency cited Yaroslav Roschupkin, a spokesman for Russia's Central Military District, as saying on ...

Kazakhstan: Editor's Parole Release Ordered in Surprise Ruling

A court in Kazakhstan has ordered the release on parole of a prominent journalist who was sentenced last October to serve six years in prison on fraud charges. Lawyers filing the parole appeal for Seitkazy Matayev, 63, said their client had exhibited exemplary behavior while in prison and that he ...

Kazakhstan: Prosecutors Hunt Mystery Millionaire Offical

Kazakhstan is abuzz with this week's supposed revelations about how a government official bought an apartment in Paris for a whopping 65 million euros . After initially scoffing at the reports, authorities have now begun to take an active interest. A report on the transaction in Mansion Global, a ...

Kazakhstan: Wave of Emigration to Russia Shows No Sign of Abating

The outflow of technically qualified and educated people from Kazakhstan has been growing steadily over the past four years. Most are heading to Russia. As economy think tank Finprom.kz noted in a November 14 article analyzing freshly released official statistical data, the bulk of those leaving ...

Armenia: Students Protest, Declare Hunger Strike Over Draft Deferment Bill

Changes in Armenia's military conscription laws have resulted in large-scale protests among students in the country, including a small group who have announced a hunger strike. On November 15, Armenia's parliament passed a law significantly altering the practice of allowing young men to defer their ...

Kyrgyzstan: Sheep Sacrificed to Stem Car Crash Scourge

Local officials and religious leaders in southern Kyrgyzstan ritually sacrificed a sheep this week in the hope of stemming the persistent scourge of car accidents along the country's highways. Their ceremony was only partly symbolic. An imam from the town of Toktogul, in the south of the country, ...

Tajikistan: Opposition Figure Attacked by Mob

One of the few opposition figures still remaining in Tajikistan was assaulted last week in an incident he is describing as politically motivated. Rahmatillo Zoirov, head of the Social Democratic Party, said on his Facebook account on November 14 that he was attacked by a group of two men and one ...

Eurasian Union Insists Customs Code At No Threat of Delay

The permanent body that runs the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union trade bloc has issued fresh assurances that a long-awaited customs code will come into effect on January 1 as previously planned, despite ongoing tensions among member nations. The Eurasian Union Commission said in a statement on ...

The Central Asianist Podcast with Nate Schenkkan: Order at the Bazaar

Editors' Picks: No In this episode, Nate talks with Regine A. Spector, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, about her book, Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia.

Abkhazia: Nauru Stays Loyal In Face of U.S. Pressure

The president of the South Pacific island nation of Nauru visited Abkhazia, apparently the first non-Russian head of state to visit the mostly unrecogized republic. On November 12, the Abkhaz leadership rolled out the red carpet for Nauran President Baron Waka as both sides trumpeted the growing ...

Kyrgyzstan: Losing Presidential Candidate Ditches Party Leadership

The main losing candidate in the recent presidential election in Kyrgyzstan has relinquished leadership of his political party in the wake of a criminal investigation being opened against him. Omurbek Babanov said in a statement on November that he will no longer head the Respublika/Ata-Jurt group, ...

Uzbekistan Plans Its Own Hydropower Plant

After years of opposing hydropower projects in neighboring countries, Uzbekistan has sprung a surprise by revealing it plans to pursue one of its own. Sources at UzbekHydroEnergo, a company only recently created on the orders of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, told media on November 13 that the ...

Scottish Memorial Sparks War of Words Between Abkhazia and Georgia

Most of the streets of Sukhumi, capital of the Georgian-claimed secessionist region of Abkhazia, are named after Soviet-era luminaries and notable figures from the conflict that gave the territory de facto independence. But stroll for long enough around the picturesque Black Sea city and an unusual ...

Turkmenistan: Iran, Saudis Dangle Exits from Energy Cul-de-Sac

In these lean times, Turkmenistan has been seeking out potential clients and partners for its energy industry, only for two to present themselves at the same time. Sort of. As chance would have it, they are sworn rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. The overture from the Saudis was admittedly very ...

Kazakhstan Summons Landmark Central Asian Leaders Summit

Kazakhstan is seeking to reprise its role as a locomotive for regional integration by calling for a landmark summit of Central Asian leaders to be held in Astana next year. The proposal was reportedly voiced by Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov in Samarkand on November 10 at a UN-sponsored ...

Kyrgyzstan: Activists Demand Halt to Glacier Mining

The government and the activist community in Kyrgyzstan are at loggerheads over inexorably advancing proposals to legalize mining at a pair of environmentally sensitive glaciers. After opponents of the changes to the law assembled in Bishkek on November 8 for a protest rally, the authorities ...

Georgian and Russian Orthodox Church Vow to Jointly Resolve Abkhazian Schism'

The governments of Georgia and Russia have no formal relations and remained locked in conflict over the breakaway territory of Abkhazia. The two countries' churches, however, have announced a surprising joint diplomatic effort to repair a schism in the Abkhazian church. On November 1 Metropolitan ...

Iranian FM Goes to Tajikistan on Mission to Patch Up Relations

Iran's foreign minister has embarked on a curious mission to Tajikistan, possibly to patch up relations that have plummeted to historic lows. Javad Zarif ostensibly flew into Dushanbe on November 8 to attend the inauguration of a new Iranian embassy — the old building having been swept up in the ...

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Power Grids to Reunite in Boon for the Region

In the latest heartening indication of improving energy cooperation in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is pledging to reintegrate its electricity grid with that of Tajikistan. Efforts have over the past decade gone in the other direction, with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan taking the lead in the late 2000s by ...

Uzbekistan: Another Journalist Arrested, Casting Doubt on Liberalizing Agenda

Security services in Uzbekistan have arrested another journalist, Hayot Nasreddinov, sowing doubt about the seriousness of the government's unspoken intent to expand media freedoms. Nasreddinov, 47, was arrested on October 20, but confirmation of the jailing has only been revealed in the past few ...

Armenians Rally Against American GMOs

The United States embassy in Yerevan has sparked controversy by promoting the controversial American agribusiness giant Monsanto's business in Armenia. On November 1, the embassy held a conference on Armenian agriculture. Two American companies, Monsanto and Valmont presented at the event to drum up ...

Uzbekistan Allows Call to Prayer on Loudspeakers

The capital of Uzbekistan has for the first time in more than a decade begun ringing to the sound of the call to prayer. The last time the Kukcha mosque in Tashkent blared the summons over its loudspeakers was back in 2005. Karim Burkhanov, a journalist who lives near the mosque, told EurasiaNet.org ...

Kazakhstan: State Bailing Out Yet Another Ailing Bank

The government in Kazakhstan is mulling a generous rescue plan for a collapsing bank that the president only days ago described as being run by thieves.' Under the solution presented on November 7, the National Bank will enlist copper miner Kazakhmys to recapitalize RBK Bank to the tune of 160 ...

Tajikistan Set to Renew Imports of Uzbek Gas

A source at a state-run natural gas company in Tajikistan has told media that they are finalizing negotiations to resume the import of gas from Uzbekistan after a five-year hiatus. Asia-Plus news website on November 7 cited the official at Tajiktransgaz as saying a preliminary agreement for gas ...

Missing the USSR, Even in Georgia

It's not uncommon to have a longing for a place you've never been. Still, it is a bit odd if this place is the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, some young Georgians appear to miss this country they've never seen. Almost 270 Georgians, 28 years old or younger, told a CRRC survey this year that the 1991 ...

Chechnya: Praising Putin with iPhone X

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Chechnya's strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has come up with a social-media twist on a Soviet-style tradition – he's given away an iPhone X for the best poem about Russian President Vladimir Putin. That's more significant than it ...

Kyrgyzstan: Convicted Opposition Politician's Brother Murdered

The younger brother of a recently convicted opposition figure in Kyrgyzstan has been murdered, injecting more anxiety into an already sour political climate. Police said masked men burst into Ulan Salyanov's home in Bishkek and killed him in the very early hours of November 6. According to ...

Kazakhstan, Paradise Papers: Offshore Propped Up by Bailed-out Bank

A trove of documents obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung has shed light on how co-founders of an intensely nebulous, Bermuda-based offshore investment vehicle, Meridian Capital, obtained generous loans from a major Kazakhstani bank whose survival was only made possible by multibillion ...

Kyrgyzstan: Criminal Case Opened Against Losing Presidential Candidate

Prosecutors in Kyrgyzstan have opened a criminal case against the runner-up in recent presidential elections, the multimillionaire businessman Omurbek Babanov. Officials are accusing Babanov of fomenting ethnic tension and attempting to incite the overthrow of the government during a campaign stump ...

Kazakhstan: President Sees Red Over Collapsing Bank

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has angrily condemned management at a mid-sized bank teetering on the verge of collapse, accusing it of falling prey to thieving shareholders. The clouds have been gathering over RBK bank for some time now. Numerous accountholders have resorted to filing ...

Kazakhstan: New-Look Alphabet Makes First Outings

A local newspaper in northern Kazakhstan has become the first publication to run an edition in the new-look, apostrophe-heavy Latin alphabet. Dinara Karymsakova, a resident of the Kostanay region, displayed a hard copy of Arqalyq Habary on her Facebook page. In the edition, the newspaper published ...

Georgia: Athletes, Politicians Back Soccer Player's Support for LGBT Rights

Georgian soccer player Guram Kashia faces an outcry at home over his choice to express support for gay rights in the Netherlands, but support from Georgian fans, athletes and politicians, including Tbilisi Mayor-Elect Kakha Kaladze, Georgia's most famous soccer player, suggest that local views on ...

Georgia to Promote Abkhaz Language, But Sukhumi Unimpressed

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has announced a new state program aimed at developing and protecting the Abkhaz language in an effort to woo back its prodigal Abkhazian citizens. Congratulating his Abkhazian brothers and sisters,' Kvirikashvili promised his government's backing, noting ...