This is a copy of our newsletter dated 15 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 a referendum on constitutional amendments in Kyrgyzstan, ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang, cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan’s tourism industry, and, in lighter news, the Eurovision.
On 11 March, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament approved (RU) the final reading of a bill to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments. The referendum is planned for 11 April. The amendments would give more power to the president, create a people’s assembly (kurultay) with, among others, authority to propose laws to the parliament, but also prohibit the dissemination of information that goes against the “moral values and the public consciousness of the people of Kyrgyzstan”. The president, Sadyr Japarov, signed the bill (RU) into law on 12 March.
Kazakhstan’s ministry of foreign affairs has asked China to help “resolve issues” (EN) raised by picketers at the Chinese consulate in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. The protesters are demanding their relative be allowed to leave the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Kyrgyzstan’s president Sadyr Japarov made an official visit to Uzbekistan, where he met with his Uzbek counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. According to the Uzbek media Gazeta.uz (RU), they agreed to create a joint investment fund, open air traffic to Sox, an Uzbek exclave surrounded by Kyrgyzstan, resolve issues about the disputed enclave of Unkar-Too, fund 100 places for Kyrgyz citizens in Uzbek universities and work on the construction of a hydroelectric power station, among others.
Last month, the Uzbek government announced an action plan (ENG) to develop the country’s tourism industry. The new measures, targeting transport, visa requirements and taxes, came into effect in March. Uzbekistan hopes to promote its tourism industry despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Tajikistan-born singer Manizha will represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Manizha Sangin, who grew up in Russia after her family left Tajikistan during the civil war, will perform “Russian Woman”. The song denounces gender stereotypes and celebrates women.
Covid-19 in Central Asia
As of 15 March 2021, there have officially been 405,203 cases, 5,051 deaths et 382,864 recoveries. In more detail:
– Kazakhstan : 224,731 cases, 2,856 deaths, 206,832 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan : 86,917 cases, 1,483 deaths, 83,875 recovered
– Uzbekistan : 80,247 cases, 622 deaths, 78,939 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered (no new cases according to official figures)
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered (no cases according to official figures)
Last month, Kyrgyzstan’s president Sadyr Japarov announced (FR) that the country will use the Sputnik V vaccine for its mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus.
Our photo of the week
School pupils in Kyrgyzstan 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!
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.