Newspaper (illustration of article about journalists in Uzbekistan)

[Newsletter] Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan march for International Women’s Day

This is a copy of our newsletter dated 8 March 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 [email protected]

In the news

Hello from Novastan! This week we’re looking at International Women’s Day marches in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, Central Asian journalism in Russia, criticism of the new Kyrgyz constitution, and more…

Activists gathered to march for women’s rights in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. According to the Kyrgyz media (RU), up to 600 people marched in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and around 50 in the southern city of Osh.  This is a record number of people for International Women’s Day in both cities. Last year, masked men had attacked the Bishkek march and the police had detained around 70 activists.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and former capital, a “few hundred” marched according to, who also calls it (RU) “the largest women’s march in recent history”.

Fergana News, the biggest Russian news site dedicated to Central Asia, is experiencing major financial difficulties and is at risk of closing down (ENG).

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Kyrgyzstan’s draft constitution “undermines human rights and weakens checks and balances necessary to prevent abuses of power”. In a statement (ENG), the human rights organisation calls on the country’s parliament to postpone consideration of the draft until a new parliament is elected- The current parliament should have been renewed during elections in October, but the results were annulled following mass protests.

In Kyrgyzstan, Kamchybek Kolbaev was released from custody on 2 March. Kolbaev was detained (ENG) in October last year on suspicion of organising a criminal group and participating in the activities of an organised criminal group. The United States is “deeply concerned” about Kolbaev’s release, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said in a statement (ENG), describing him as a “convicted murderer whose criminal network engages in drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, and other dangerous criminal activity.”

Kazakh bank Jýsan Bank has launched (FR) the JPAY mobile application, which allows contactless payments from a smartphone and is intended to compete with Apple and Samsung services. 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, will provide (ENG)a $3 million loan to Kyrgyzstan’s largest private wholesale broadband operator. This is IFC’s first investment in the country’s telecommunications sector.

Covid-19 in Central Asia

As of 8 March 2021, there have officially been398,680 cases, 4,997 deaths et 377,610 recoveries. In more detail:

– Kazakhstan : 218,754 cases, 2,812 deaths, 202,230 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan : 86,583 cases,  1,473 deaths, 83,575 recovered
– Uzbekistan : 80,035 cases, 622 deaths, 78,587 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered (no new cases according to official figures)
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered

Turkmenistanreceived (ENG) Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday.

Our photo of the week

Photo of the day Kyrgyzstan Irina Unruh Village winter

A village in winter by Irina Unruh. 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! If you don’t know what to watch tonight, we recommend the Kazakh film The Wounded Angel.

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.

Irina Unruh
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