28 april 2017
Central Asia news
Brothers and neighbours speak about Rakhmat Akilov in Uzbekistan and Abror and Akram Azimov brothers in Kyrgyzstan. A good childhood and obedience, law-abiding behaviour, positive reputation in the neighbourhood, diligence – such testimonials would make a decent citizen, but not terrorist.
‘The main paradox of official monuments: pompously performed in granite and erected in the main squares they are less durable than ordinary decorative plastics in the depths of the park, which is destroyed by a sluggish time and not by impatient decisions of the milieu of the patriarchs.’ Art critic and expert of Central Asia Boris Chukhovich tells four paradoxical stories related to the competition on the monument to the first president of the country Islam Karimov that just ended in Uzbekistan.
People everywhere are curious about how this or that person acquired a glut of wealth. In particular if some nouveau riche (and only this tells a lot) holds a high public office at the same time. There are countries where career growth correlates with financial – a newly rich having a cushy job. Fergana proposes to consider what potential candidates for President and their relatives acquired according to income statements.
Fergana Editor-in-Chief Daniil Kislov interviewed the IRPT leader over the Internet. Mr. Kabiri spoke about his current status, and how the IRPT was a legal organisation and became “terrorist” overnight and why many of his supporters have not left Tajikistan even though they were aware of impending arrests. The interlocutor also spoke of the exiled Tajik opposition’s plans.
A reporter of Fergana was able to visit a mahalla (neighbourhood) in Samarkand where the relatives of Rakhmat Akilov live. Swedish police arrested Mr Akilov as the main suspect of a terrorist act in Stockholm early April. Residents of Mr Akilov’s neighbourhood in Samarkand maintain that he was “distanced from politics and ideas of religious extremism.” No one saw him observing religious rites. Like the rest of the majority of Muslims in Uzbekistan, he would maintain only the so-called “household Islam,” and behaved like any other law-abiding person.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to quickly—until the end of this year that is—to draft a project of the Latin script-based Kazakh alphabet. Fergana Chief Editor Daniil Kislov shares his thoughts on positives and negatives of introducing said novelty in Kazakhstan.
In civilised states, the president’s health, whether mental or physical, is not considered a state secret. Everywhere, the press and the opposition are needed to keep madmen from coming to power. A sad example is the election of Donald Trump — a man who many, to put it mildly, don’t consider to be presidential material. And how could one not compare him with Kyrgyzstan’s president Almazbek Atambayev? Fergana News recalls some of Kyrgyzstan president's stranger chapters.
It seems like everything in authoritarian countries has been created and established to materialise the phantasies of George Orwell and Franz Kafka. At that, sheer number of various prohibitions and laws far exceeds the number of such countries, causing disbelief in normal and healthy societies. Sometimes these regimes adopt such bills and laws that are confusing and one may not easily understand what punishable acts are. More often than not parts of such laws are interpreted in ways that make no sense whatsoever. Kazakhstan is no exception.
Representatives of the US embassy and a number of international organisations were allowed to visit Yelana Urlayeva, the chairman of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (HRAU), in her hospital room. However, there is no clarity as to justifications for subjecting her to forced psychiatric treatment to date, the Tashkent-based rights advocate’s relatives told Fergana. The medical institution administration has not provided any information as to Ms Urlayeva’s arrest and forced treatment.
The latest decree the Uzbek head of state directs the society toward “improving the place and role of self-governance by citizens in society, turn them into local bodies engaged in providing realistic assistance and cooperation to the people.” the decree also provides for renovating mahalla committee buildings and paying pension benefits to the committee leaderships in full and in a timely manner. The national council for coordinating mahallas is now granted the status of a legal entity in the form of an association of citizens assemblies. Prime Minister of Uzbekistan is appointed the head of the national council. His first deputy’s rank is elevated to the status of a minister, who will be in charge of household matters, medical and transpiration services; the chairman’s deputy’s rank is elevated to the status of a deputy minister.
Neo-patrimonial regimes have been established in Central Asian countries following the implosion of the Soviet Union. The new elites divided entire economies and “sweet-spot” government positions between “bosses” and their “vassals.” Meanwhile, the rest of the society, who are excluded from such networks, has no chances to secure good jobs, to peacefully and beneficially conduct business and remains impoverished. Such systems of management create fertile grounds for booming human trafficking and joining the ranks of IS, Kazakh political scientist Talgat Mamyrayymov says in the article he authored below.
Today’s editorial covers the event of the day in Kyrgyzstan—a Bishkek court ruled to leave Azimjan Askarov’s life-long imprisonment verdict in force. Why was the journalist and human rights activist was tried in the first place? Chief Editor Daniil Kislov is certain that his colleague and friend was imprisoned for his courageous work, for criticism and the truth the court refused to acknowledge. It is such truth that the Kyrgyz government and society are still unprepared to face.
Early on January 24, a verdict was issued in the case of Azimjan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, journalist and human rights advocate, who was arrested during the bloody events in Southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Mr Askarov was accused of organising mass disorders and killing of a police officer. Appellate courts of all levels in Kyrgyzstan upheld the verdict to life-long imprisonment and property confiscation. Four years later, the UN Committee for Human Rights Committee investigated into Mr Askarov’s case and adopted a decision that Mr Askarov was arrested illegally and must therefore be freed. In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan, instead of implementing the UN Committee’s recommendations, has directed lower courts to retry the case.
Politicians and experts have long been expressing concerns regarding the situation on the Afghan side of the border near Tajikistan. The length of the border the two countries share is 1,344km, of which 920km are the Gorno-Badakhshan section while the remaining over 424km are the Khatlon Region of Tajikistan. The latter section is the one that causes most concern in terms of attempts to violate the state border from the Afghan side to contraband illicit drugs. The situation in the southern ends of Gorno-Badakhsan Autonomous Region, known by is Russian abbreviation, GBAO, is relative stable. However, according to experts, there is a risk that the situation could deteriorate.
The Harvard International Review's January 2017 edition includes an academic article on problems with water supply in Central Asia. The article author Alisher Ilkhamov is a Research Associate at the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. According to Mr Ilkhamov, the worsening international relations in the region are the main source of water-related problems in post-Soviet Central Asia.