Boxing Day Package: A week in Central Asia at a glance
Preparations for Christmas festivities had left no time to follow all developments in Central Asia, and here we have made the digest of the most critical updates in the region.
On 19 December, the Judicial Department of Kyrgyzstan has arrested the "NTS" TV Channel following the court order. The TV channel controlled by Omurbek Babanov, the politician, disgraced after the presidential election in October 2017. The court order imposed to secure the claim of Grexton Capital Ltd. registered in Belize and associated with the name of Maxim Bakiyev, the son of the president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev ousted during the 2010 revolution.
Omurbek Babanov called the arrest of the property a raider seizure. "Have we really come to the point where we are now protecting and representing the interests of Maxim Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan? Do legal documents - it's just a piece of paper, justice is nothing, and the main goal - to close or take away an independent, private television channel?" stated the politician.
Earlier, on 4 November, criminal proceedings investigate Babanov's collusion following the calls for hatred, the politician allegedly sounded in his speech during the presidential campaign in September. Babanov dismissed the accusations. Although he remains abroad, the Kyrgyz authorities have not issued an international warrant.
The bailiff, at the same time, promised that they would not force the NTC channel stop broadcasting, reports Kloop.kg news agency.
Ashgabat animal welfare activist released from custody
An animal welfare activist, Galina Kucherenko, has been released after 15 days of arrest in Turkmenistan on 22 December, reports the Chronicle of Turkmenistan. She returned home after her release.
On 7 December, police broke into the apartment of Kucherenko detaining Galina and her daughter Valeria soon. The daughter of the activist was fined 50 manats for the resistance to the police and was released after a few hours. Returning to the flat, she found out that all the pets had disappeared from it.
The formal reason for the detention was the statement of neighbours who claimed that the woman kept dogs and cats in her flat in allegedly unhygienic conditions. One of the neighbours also said that Kucherenko reportedly attacked her mother.
President of Uzbekistan announces reform of National Security Service
In Uzbekistan, a bill regulating the national security service (SNB) should be adopted, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has addressed the members of the Oliy Majlis (parliament) on 22 December, reports Gazeta.uz news agency.
"Currently, the bodies of the National Security Service," the head of state reminded, "act on the basis of a provision the government approved 26 years ago. The inviolability of this provision for a quarter of a century and the assessment of any problem as a threat to national security led to an unjustified expansion of the authority of this department."
According to the president, new threats to the security of the republic caused by the activation of migration processes, and consequently - the spread of terrorism and extremism - dictate the necessity of the SNB reform.
Uzbekistan plans to scrap police posts on borders of provinces
The Uzbek government plans to close all road patrol posts between the provinces of the country and sharply reduce the number of stationary posts, reports Gazeta.uz news agency referring to the address of the president Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Oliy Majlis (parliament) on 22 December.
According to the head of state, the system of the locating of posts is outdated and it limits the free movement of people and the development of the economy, including internal and external tourism.
"Imagine if an ordinary person wants to come to Tashkent from Khorezm by car, he needs to cross 17 posts. 17 posts! Only one post - Samarkand, then Jizzakh, Syr Darya, and then three more posts to Chinaz. It's good that this man from Khorezm does not do anything to himself. It's funny, but it's life! People from the Fergana Valley have to face eight such posts," Mirziyoyev stated.
At present, there are more than 60 road patrol posts on the borders of provinces in Uzbekistan. The president also said in his address to the parliament, that all road patrol officers would wear the camera to combat corruption.
Newly elected Kyrgyz president 'successfully' sued journalists collecting $ 144 thousand
The Bishkek City Court has ordered Kabay Karabekov, the Kyrgyz journalist, and 24.kg news agency to pay ten million soms ($ 144,000) to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov protecting his honour and dignity upholding the verdict of the first-tier court, 24.kg reports.
Karabekov told Fergana News that the court had heard their appeal only ten minutes. "The judges had this time enough to listen to us and make the decision. I have never seen the courts treating journalists at such a speedy rate," he said adding that the new government "continues to crush the media."
The publication "Visit to Sochi. The Kremlin will be once again explained how good the successor is?" became the reason for the proceedings. In particular, the following excerpt from this article: "Moscow hinted the Kyrgyz side that it is disturbed by information from Kyrgyz and Russian special services about the alleged close ties of the Jeenbekov brothers with radical organisations. Including with the "Society for Social Reforms," which the Russian Federation listed as a terrorist organisation."
Tajik cotton oligarch paid $ 19 million for his release
Jamshed Abdulov, the Tajik head of the Olimi Karimzod company and the owner of the Olim Textiles factory, who had been accused of failing to return $ 15 million loan to Tajprombank, has been released.
As Ozodi Radio (the Tajik service of Radio Liberty) reports with reference to the businessman's relatives, Abdulov has been released after he had paid all the debts of the loan. Another source of the radio explained that while Abdulov being in custody for 40 days, also repaid a $ 4 million loan taken from Tochiksodirotbank, in addition to the Tajprombank loan.
The source in the police department of the Firdavsi district of Dushanbe, where Jamshed Abdulov had been in custody, confirms the oligarch has been released on the morning of 20 December, however not specifying conditions of his release.
Senate of Kazakhstan defends corrupt officials from journalistic investigations
The Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan has adopted the bill which, according to human rights activists and journalists, severely limits the rights of the media, and therefore the right of the society to information.
One of the articles of the draft law obliges journalists to obtain consent from a person or through legal representative disseminate in the mass media personal, family, medical, banking, commercial and other secrets protected by law unless the person or legal representative indicate the information in official communications and distribute in the open sources.
Since the law specifies neither a personal secret nor an important subject of public interest terms, it is quite obvious that the bill protects defendants in anti-corruption investigations. Any information discrediting an official can be qualified as a "personal, commercial secret" if the media would try to investigate revenues of an official, or as a "family secret" if the journalist would wish to find out why so many relatives are in power. Thus, the law makes covering anti-corruption investigations almost impossible.