This is a copy of our newsletter dated 22 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 [email protected].
Above: Raimbek Matraimov in 2019
In the news
Hello from Novastan! This week we look at (even more) developments in the Matraimov case in Kyrgyzstan, political appointments in Turkmenistan, and more.
The former deputy head of Kyrgyzstan’s customs service Raimbek Matraimov will spend two months in pretrial detention [ENG], a Bishkek court ruled. This comes after a first sentence for corruption on 11 February resulted in a fine. Investigations in 2019/2020 implicated Matraimov in a scheme to secretly transfer hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country.
Turkmenistan’s president has named his son deputy prime minister[ENG]. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow made his son Serdar deputy prime minister for digitisation and innovative technologies on 11 February. This appointment goes hand in hand with a cabinet reshuffle.
The UK foreign secretary called for the UN to investigate Uyghur camps in the Xinjiang region of China. “The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, or another independent fact-finding expert, must – and I repeat must – be given urgent and unfettered access to Xinjiang,” Dominic Raab said [ENG] to the United Nations Human Rights council today.
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will resume negotiations [RU] to define their borders in March. Demarcating borders has been an issue since the end of the Soviet Union. This is especially the case in the Ferghana Valley “where a myriad of enclaves exist, and all three countries which share it — Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — have both historical claims to each other’s territory and economic interests,” the International Crisis Group explained in 2002 [ENG].
Covid-19 in Central Asia
As of 22 February 2021, there have officially been 387,035 cases, 4,710 deaths and 365,931 recoveries. In more detail:
– Kazakhstan : 208,117 cases, 2,540 deaths, 191,739 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan: 85,929 cases, 1,458 deaths, 82,803 recovered
– Uzbekistan: 79,681 cases, 622 deaths, 78,171 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered (no new cases according to official figures)
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered
New research shows that official Covid-19 figures in Central Asia are “undercounts”, Eurasianet reports [ENG]. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan show the biggest disparity between the excess mortality rate and the official COVID-19 death count, followed by Belarus, Egypt and Russia.
Our photo of the week
“On the road with Maksat” is an ongoing project by the photographer Irina Unruh. During her travels in Kyrgyzstan, she spent many hours in a car with the driver Maksat. 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.
The short documentary The Wife sheds light on domestic abuse in Kazakhstan. Director Kana Beisekeyev spoke with Novastan contributor Tommy Hodgson about the film. Read their conversation here.
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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.