Cotton field in Uzbekistan

[Newsletter] A fistful of som

This is a copy of our newsletter dated 15 February 2021. Sign up here to receive it directly in your inbox every Monday.

This newsletter is dedicated to post-Soviet Central Asia. Each week, we let you know the latest from the region. Question, comments, suggestions? Write to us at editorial@novastan.org.

Above: Uzbekistan has published an environment, social and governance (ESG) report. (Photo: David Stanley)

In the news

Hello from Novastan! This week we look at the latest developments in the Matraimov case in Kyrgyzstan, sustainability in Uzbekistan, human rights in Kazakhstan and more…

Raimbek Matraimov was found guilty of corruption and fined 260,000 som (just over £2,200). A 2019 investigation [ENG] implicated the former deputy head of Kyrgyzstan’s customs service in a scheme to secretly transfer hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country. As the Kyrgyz media Kloop.kg reports [RU], Matraimov had made a deal with the prosecution, allowing him to avoid a prison sentence in exchange for voluntary repayment of 2bn som, or around £140,000.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters in Bishkek marched “for justice” and against corruption. As Radio Azattyk, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service, notes [RU], participants mentioned Matraimov’s sentence, recalling President Sadyr Japarov’s promise to jail the former official.

Uzbekistan has published [ENG] an environment, social and governance (ESG) report. While ESG reports are common practice in the corporate world, Uzbekistan is the first country to publish one.

A new satellite detected [ENG] a methane leak in Turkmenistan. This is not a first: a French data analytics company reported [FR] such a leak in October last year, and, before that, a 2019 study pointed out [FR] a large methane cloud originating in western Turkmenistan.

On 11 February, the European parliament adopted a resolution [ENG] urging Kazakhstan to respect human rights. The text “calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to drop politically motivated charges and end all forms of arbitrary detention, reprisals and harassment … and to allow people to freely express their political, religious and other views“.

Covid-19 in Central Asia

As of 15 February 2021, there have officially been 380,839 cases, 4,694 deaths and 358,657 recoveries. In more detail:

– Kazakhstan : 202,573 cases, 2,540 deaths, 185,205 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan: 85,516 cases,  1,442 deaths, 82,306 recovered
– Uzbekistan: 79,442 cases, 622 deaths, 77,928 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered (no new cases according to official figures)
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered

Turkmenistan still officially states Covid-19 is entirely absent from the country despite many signs to the contrary.

Tajikistan has declared itself Covid-free, but experts say the country’s authorities are an unreliable source [EN] when it comes to coronavirus figures. Last week, the health minister Jamoliddin Abdullozoda, repeated that there hadn’t been any new cases in the country in 2021, which contradicts the official count on covid.tj.

At the same press conference, he clarified [RU] Tajikistan’s vaccine situation: “20% of vaccines for the population of Tajikistan will be provided under the COVAX program”, he said. “We are negotiating with the Russian side regarding the purchase of the Sputnik vaccine, and we will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine for free.”

Our photo of the week

Tajikistan Khujand sunset mountains

Sunset over Khujand by Simon Massicotte. Click on the picture for more information.

Every day, we publish a photo from Central Asia. You can find it on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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That’s it for this week! We recommend starting your evening with some Central Asian rap.

Thank you for reading! See you next week for more information and analysis from Central Asia. For daily updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.

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