Tag: ean

Tajikistan: Brain Drain Reaches New Highs

The exodus of Tajikistan’s best minds has reached record levels, according to figures coming out of Russia.

In 2016, 14,000 Tajik family units filed residency applications withs Russia’s Interior Ministry under a state resettlement program designed for former citizens of the Soviet Union.

The number of applications marks a notable increase from 13,000 in 2015 and 10,000 in 2014.

Of those, in 2015, 1,200 families received residence permits, and that figure rose to 1,850 in 2016.

Journalist Flees Kazakhstan Fearing Persecution

The chief editor of a leading news website in Kazakhstan has announced that he has left the country out of concern that he may be targeted for prosecution.

Bekzhan Idrisov, who edits Radiotochka.kz, made the announcement on his Facebook page on December 26. The publisher of his website and editor of Central Asia Monitor newspaper, Bigeldy Gabdullin, was detained by the authorities in mid-November on suspicion of committing fraud.

Stories of reporters feeling compelled to flee Kazakhstan are a stark reminder of the problems face by independent media in the country as they negotiate financial constraints and pressure from the government to refrain from critical coverage.

Explaining the Crisis in Abkhazia

A political crisis in the separatist entity of Abkhazia, which included coup rumors and Russia’s temporary detention of an opposition leader, has eased for now. But the sources of instability have not been fully addressed.

After large protests and counter-protests on December 15 in the capital, Sukhumi, the de facto president, Raul Khajimba, offered concessions to the opposition. But while this appears to have dampened tensions for now, Abkhazia seems likely to be gripped by uncertainty for months ahead.

So what set off this crisis? On November 30, the opposition party Amtsakhara announced that if Khajimba did not resign by December 15, it would convene a people’s assembly. The implicit threat was that this people’s assembly might seek Khajimba’s ouster. The government took the threat seriously, organizing a counter-protest, as well as a range of statements by political and civil society actors (including even former South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity) that uniformly appealed for unity. In addition, the State Security Service presented recordings it claimed featured certain opposition members discussing plans to forcefully overthrow Khajimba.

Azerbaijan Announces Deal With Israel to Buy Iron Dome

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15379992

Azerbaijan has reached a deal with Israel to buy the Iron Dome air defense system, a senior Azerbaijani government official has announced. But questions remain over how useful the celebrated system really is for Azerbaijan and whether it would be worth the cost.

Over the last couple of months, there have been a number of reports that a deal like this was in the works, and last month this blog featured a post on how those reports probably weren’t true. There are technical reasons that the Iron Dome won’t do what Azerbaijan wants. And the state-of-the-art system would be a budget buster for Azerbaijan, which has been forced by falling oil prices to slash expenditures, not least on the military.

Kyrgyzstan: Investigators Declare War on Facebook

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51457257

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have lashed out at social media and, in particular, how it is being used to say mean things about President Almazbek Atambayev.

In recent days there have been two reports of Facebook users being called in for a stern talk with the security services for things they have written — or might have written — about Atambayev. Nobody has been charged, yet.

There was a surge of hubbub on social media last week when news broke of one man being reportedly grilled over suspicions he is the mind behind Murch, an anonymously run Facebook account that serves as a repository for lowbrow political humour.

Azerbaijan Bans Insulting Its President Online

Cursing the president online has become a criminal offense in Azerbaijan, an ex-Soviet republic that is big on energy, but, critics say, short on freedom. On November 30, the Azerbaijani parliament amended the country’s criminal code to protect the long-serving President Ilham Aliyev from online insults, defamation and trolls.

Azerbaijan already had a ban in place against online defamation, but, ever solicitous about the country’s 54-year-old ruler, the general prosecutor’s office apparently felt the need to prohibit the online “defamation, and derogation of honor and dignity” of the president as well.

Violations of the new amendment will be subject to a fine of up to 1,000 manats ($570) or two years of community service or two years in prison, depending on the instance.

Watchdog Accuses Kazakhstan of Flouting Labor Rights

Kazakhstan is flouting the rights of its workers to organize in trade unions and assert their labor rights, a damning new report published by an international human rights watchdog alleges.

The study, “We Are Not The Enemy: Violations of Workers’ Rights in Kazakhstan”, was published by Human Rights Watch on November 24, shortly ahead of the fifth anniversary of a bout of fatal violence that spiraled out of an oil strike in the town of Zhanaozen.

The report documents “harassment, surveillance, and, in some cases, spurious legal prosecution or dismissals in apparent retaliation for labor activism.”

Turkey Pursues a Reset with Uzbekistan

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived for a two-day visit to Uzbekistan on November 17 in a diplomatic overture that aims to undo more than a decade of frostiness.

Erdogan was due to open his trip with a visit to Samarkand, where he planned to visit the grave of the late Uzbek leader, Islam Karimov. But observers’ attention will be fixed mainly on his meeting with Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for what Uzbek media have said will be an exchange of views on regional and international issues.

Kazakhstan: Making a Tentative Foray Into Digital Money

With confidence in Kazakhstan’s national currency at an all-time low, some see an opening for the ascent of digital currencies, of which Bitcoin is perhaps the best known.

Daniyar Akishev, the youthful head of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, appeared to row against the tide of official wariness on the issue earlier this year, when he revealed that a working group had been created to study what he described as surrogate currencies.

“This is a reality with which we will come up against in the very near future, and ignoring it is not possible,” he said in June.