[Newsletter] Kazakhstan cracks down on activists
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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]
Above: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the United States have signed a partnership to promote investment in Central Asia. Photo via Visual Hunt
In the news
Hello from Novastan! After a presidential inauguration in America and protests in Russia, we’d forgive you for not keeping up with Central Asian news. Here’s what you might have missed.
Kazakhstan is cracking down on activists and human rights organisations. Two NGOs, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR) and the International Legal Initiative (ILI) are facing fines and temporary closures [RU] for alleged financial irregularities. This comes after officials fined the election-monitoring group Echo and human rights group Erkindik Kanaty earlier this month. In November 2020, 13 other groups were given similar fines.
On 7 January, the United States, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed a partnership to promote investment and support economic development in Central Asia. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade and the Astana International Financial Center will raise at least $1 billion over the next 5 years. More on our French website [FR].
The Turkmen journalist Soltan Achilova is one of the three finalists of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She is not the first Central Asian woman to be nominated for this prize: in 2008, it was awarded to the Uzbek journalist and activist Mo’tabar Tojiboyeva.
Iran and Uzbekistan’s joint infrastructure projects are picking up steam despite the coronavirus pandemic. More particularly, the port of Chahabar in Iran stands as a potential gateway to world trade for the Uzbek economy.
Covid-19 in Central Asia
As of 25 January 2021, there have been 354,162 case, 4,515 deaths and 330,418 recoveries. In more detail:
– Kazakhstan : 178,454 cases, 2,403 deaths, 160,313 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan: 83,971 cases, 1,401 deaths, 80,025 recovered
– Uzbekistan: 78,429 cases, 621 deaths, 76,862 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered
Turkmenistan maintains Covid-19 is not present in the country, hence the statistics above. Last week, it approved the use of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine and is working on registering different vaccines, too [RU]. Officially this is for foreign athletes visiting Turkmenistan for the 2021 Track Cycling World Championships in October.
Correction: last week, we wrote Tajikistan had not reported new cases since 1st January – it had in fact reported 12 cases between 1-18 January. Since then, there are no new cases according to the official figures.
Kazakhstan is planning to start mass vaccination on 1st February [RU].
Our photo of the week
Rangkul (Tajikistan) by Cyril Caldero. Click on the picture for more information.
Events. This Wednesday at 4pm GMT (5pm in Paris and Berlin, 10pm in Bishkek), Novastan France is organising an online conference on popular music in Central Asia. More information here. Last week we wrote 11pm Bishkek time instead of 10pm, many apologies for the error.
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