This is a copy of our newsletter dated 1 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].
Above: Kazakhstan’s Ashyq app assigns a colour to the user depending on their infection status. For example, green if they have had a negative PCR test in the last 72 hours. Source: Kazinform
In the news
Hello from Novastan! This week we look at secret palaces, Japarov in Russia, a new Covid app in Kazakhstan, Spotify’s launch in two Central Asian countries, and more…
An investigation by the American media RFE/RL’s Uzbek branch revealed [ENG] evidence of a secretive resort, including a luxurious mansion, built for Uzbekistan’s president not far from the capital Tashkent. The investigation also alleges the complex includes a dam and reservoir, blocking a nearby village’s access to water from the Shovvozsoy river.
According to the investigation, the state-run Uzbekistan Railways oversaw the construction of the resort. The company said [ENG] RFE/RL’s report was “unfounded and untrue”.
Sadyr Japarov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, went to Russia and met with Vladimir Putin for his first foreign visit last week. “(We discussed) economic cooperation between our countries, military cooperation and other areas of cooperation. We talked about Covid. Our Russian colleagues gave us the vaccine and promised to provide Kyrgyzstan with additional volumes,” Sadyr Japarov told [RU] the Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. They also talked about reestablishing transport links and ensuring Kyrgyz labour migrants had access to the coronavirus vaccine in Russia.
After decades of disagreement over the use of oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum of understanding via video conference on 21 January 2021, opening up the possibility for a Trans-Caspian pipeline [ENG] between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
Spotify is expanding to Central Asia[ENG]. On 22 February, the Swedish audio streaming service announced it would launch in over 80 new markets, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Local music distributors see its arrival not as a game changer but rather as a sign of the growth of music streaming in Central Asia.
Covid-19 in Central Asia
As of 1 March 2021, there have officially been 392,739 cases, 4,718 deaths and 371,569 recoveries. In more detail:
– Kazakhstan : 213,431 cases, 2,540 deaths, 196,889 recovered
– Kyrgyzstan : 86,251 cases, 1,466 deaths, 83,210 recovered
– Uzbekistan : 79,749 cases, 622 deaths, 78,252 recovered
– Tajikistan: 13,308 cases, 90 deaths, 13,218 recovered (no new cases according to official figures)
– Turkmenistan: 0 cases, 0 deaths, 0 recovered
Kazakhstan is testing a new app [ENG], Ashyq, to restrict access to businesses depending on the user’s Covid-19 status.
Our photo of the week
Khiva by Charlotte Bonin (France). 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 today! If you haven’t read it already, we recommend this long read about the Uyghur camps in China’s Xinjiang region in The New Yorker.
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.