18 january 2017
Central Asia news
“Chinese and Uzbek archaeologists rewrite the history of an ancient city.” China’s Xinhua news agency carried a report under this title on January 11, 2017, which cites a forum on archaeology of the Academy of Public Sciences of China. According to the report, a group of archaeologists from China and Uzbekistan has made a significant discovery while excavating the ruins of the ancient town of Mingtepa (which the report erroneously calls Minggepa) in the southeast of the Fergana Valley. The news was instantaneously reposted by almost every single website in Uzbekistan.
A plane Russian citizen Yekaterian Sajneva was in landed in Uzbekistan on November 27. Ms Sajneva is a journalist for the Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper, who has been in Uzbekistan several times. But this time Yekaterina was travelling in Uzbekistan for personal reasons. She was detained on the third day of her visit and deported several hours thereafter back to Russia “for violating the rules of sojourn.” Yekaterina told the details of how everything unfolded in an interview with Fergana Chief Editor Daniil Kislov.
Fergana learnt from its own sources that the NATO liaison office to Central Asia will no longer be active starting next year. The liaison office is currently based in Tashkent, but coordinate the alliance’s activities and cooperation with all the countries in the region. What has caused the decision? We contacted Rosaria Puglisi, head of the liaison office, who has kindly agreed to respond to this and other questions.
“Welcome!”, reads a sign at the entrance to a university in Tashkent. “To what?” one may ask, “to a world of bribes, lies and hypocrisy?” The results of the August 1st nationwide entrance exams to all universities in Uzbekistan will be announced in the next few days. Despite the countless measures taken to prevent cheating (complete shutdown of text messaging services in the country, armies of policemen and professors patrolling the exam rooms, etc.), prospective students rely not on their smarts, but on cheat sheets and the help of their resourceful intermediaries who have everything “under full control”. “Ferghana”, managed to speak to one of the parents who did everything to make sure his child gets accepted to a university with a full scholarship. The following account is with regard to a university located in one of the provinces of Uzbekistan. The names of the people in this account have not been disclosed upon their request.
A public discussion to address the issue of where the Uzbek funds frozen in Swiss banks could be directed, took place in Washington, DC, on April 20. Sanjar Umarov, a former entrepreneur and Prisoner of Conscience, participated in the Washington discussion about the possible allocation of forfeited funds. Our news agency followed up with Sanjar Umarov in more detail about his claims and what his vision is regarding further confiscation and distribution of said monies.
Taalatbek Masadykov, the former political director of the UN Special Political Mission to Afghanistan in 2002-2014, has had a conversation with Central Asia expert Arkadiy Dubnov to discuss the current events in Afghanistan and whether Taliban or IS could or should be negotiated with. They also discussed the parties interested in the continuation of war in Afghanistan; the current and past Afghan presidents; IS’s funding sources; the Pashtos and the ethnic composition of Afghanistan; and threats Central Asia is facing currently.
The Swedish publishing house “Gun” has issued the first collection of uncensored modern Turkmen prose and poetry in twenty years. There are twelve authors, two of whom published their writings solely in the Russian language whereas the rest are in both Russian and Turkmen. The collection entitled “By the ravine… Behind the houses in the back” was edited for publication by the literary association “Turkmen dany atar!” (“The Turkmen dawn will come!”). Farid Tukhbatullin, the head of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and editor-in-chief of the website “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”, is one of the project leaders.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia Daniel Rosenblum told the Voice of America that over 300 modern military machines would be granted to Uzbekistan in the next few months. According to the representative of the Department of State, Washington is certain that Uzbekistan is in need of these defensive armoured vehicles to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. “They are intended to protect personnel, crews and passengers in areas that there might be explosive devices, mines, so on,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Rosenblum says. He further clarifies that these particular vehicles “are not coming from Afghanistan” as was previously expected, but “are coming from other places.” Obviously the fact in question raises at least two questions: 1) How would these vehicles benefit (or harm) Uzbekistan and the region? 2) Does this fact mean that Washington is thus expressing its unequivocal support of Islam Karimov ahead of the presidential elections in March?
The latest research into Central Asia by Sergey Abashin, a professor at the European University in Sankt-Peterburg, has recently been published as a book. The study in question researches into the history of transformation of Central Asia between late 19th century and the collapse of the Soviet Union in early 1990s. The century-long episode of history is related via a description of life in a village that has undergone conquest, repressions, rapid economic growth and cultural modernization. The book (in Russian) includes many documents and oral narrations that shed light on the conquest of the region, the establishment of first colonial and later Soviet rule, the fight against basmachis, collectivization and cotton-based economy, medicine and Islam, mahalla-centric communities and marriage strategies. The author of the book uses theories of post-colonialism, cultural hybridity, the Soviet subjectivity to analyze the collected material. The tools employed help him explain the contradicting nature of public relations in the Russian Empire and the former USSR.
Eamon Gilmore, the former deputy prime minister and the former minister for foreign affairs of Ireland, visited Аzimjan Askarov, a human rights activists imprisoned for life, at the proposal of Front Line Defenders on the eve of the International Human Rights Day. Mr. Askarov has told about his case to Mr. Gilmore in details; the latter has then discussed the matter with Kyrgyz officials. Upon completion of his trip to Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Gilmore is planning to not only meet representatives of the EU and the UN to raise the issue of unjust conviction of Mr. Askarov, but also send a letter to the Kyrgyz president with a request to assist in freeing the world-renowned rights advocate. Mr. Gilmore has kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with Fergana.
Several weeks ago ISIS (also known as ISIL and Islamic State) forces reached Turkey’s borders, destroying all ‘infidels’ in their path, by which they mean both Christians and Muslims belonging to other branches of Islam. Support for ISIS has also extended beyond its region: Afghan and Pakistani members of the Taliban have already begun to swear allegiance to this new radical Islamist movement. Specialists in politics and international relations, regional specialists, politicians and informed observers were asked what they think about the subject.
Many Russian and European mass media circulated images depicting Gulnara Karimova rudely held by hands by people in fatigues. Ms. Karimova’s “official representative,” Locksley Ryan of Davidson Ryan Dore, provided the images in question. Obviously, this press release sheds no light whatsoever to the status quo Gulnara Karimova is in. If anything, it only stirred more questions. We decided to ask Jelena Kudelko of Davidson Ryan Dore as she was indicated as a contact person in the press release. Jelena asked to provide her with written questions and was quite quick to respond.
Interview with Shermamat Abdullozoda, who held senior positions in the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury of the Republic Of Uzbekistan
The Birdamlik political opposition movement hosted a convention in St. Louis, USA, late April, and stirred a fair amount interest in the movement. We have written many articles on the founder of the movement, Mr. Bakhodir Choriyev, and his ideas for a nonviolent regime change in Uzbekistan; we have also posted the platform of the movement and Mr. Choriyev statement on the launch of a “velvet” revolution in Uzbekistan on our website. All these publications drew sympathy and a few smiles, for such plans seemed unfeasible. After all, what kind of velvet revolution in Uzbekistan could one talk about? But Mr. Choriyev convened like-minded people and the supporters of the democratic movement from Russia, Kazakhstan, Europe, Canada and the USA to the city of St. Louis, where he currently resides. The topic of nonviolent [civil] resistance seems to be gaining traction, and we decided to get to know Mr. Choriyev better.
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