20 february 2017
Central Asia news
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.
Repressions are underway in Turkmenistan against former teachers and graduates of Turkish education institutions. They are accused of having communications with bodies and structures of an organisation allegedly under the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen’s influence. According to sources of Fergana, up to 90 per cent of former teachers at Turkish-Turkmen lyceums were questioned throughout the country. According to officers of state security agencies, who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, sophisticated tortures are applied to the detainees with no warrants or reasons to do so; certain detentions and tortures resulted in the death of inmates.
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.
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.
We discussed Russia’s “southward turn”, a much-discussed topic lately, with Vladimir Milov, a well-known Russian economist, politician and Demokraticheskiy Vybor Party Chairman. After all, the roads to “long monies” that are vital for any economy’s survival are closed in the Europe-bound directions. These “road” will likely remain inaccessible for a long time, and the world does not have too many other alternatives to offer. What benefits and risks does this southward repositioning has to offer? What are our southern neighbours’ perspectives in terms of cooperation with Russia? Do it entail benefits for them, including the Central Asian nations?..
On 31 October 2014, the Presnenskiy District Court in Moscow dismissed the complaint lodged by Tatyana Shikhmuradova, the wife of Boris Sikhmuradov who is imprisoned for life in Turkmenistan. Mrs. Shikhmuradova lodged a lawsuit against the foreign affairs ministry of Russia, which has applied no effort over the last 12 years to find out about her husband’s fate. The most shocking event for Mrs. Shikhmuradova at the court was the foreign ministry representative’s claim that Mr. Shikhmuradov is not a citizen of Russia.
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.
Carnegie Moscow Center presented the “Exploring the Prospects of Russian-Turkish Cooperation in a Turbulent Neighborhood” report compiled by the Carnegie Center and the Global Relations Forum (GRF) in Istanbul. The two organizations established a Working Group dedicated to exploring the potential for regional cooperation between Turkey and Russia under the leadership of Memduh Karakullukchu, vice chairman and president, Global Relations Forum (GRF), and Dmitri Trenin, director, Carnegie Moscow Center.
Speak Up is part of the largest language school network in Poland, which belongs to the international capital group Empik Media & Fashion. In 2012 revenues of the Group were about PLN 3.2 billion (over 1 trillion USD). The language school division is represented by Learning System Group (LSG) which operates 115 schools with more than 100.000 students. LSG is the leader in teaching foreign languages in Central and Eastern Europe. Being listed in Warsaw Stock Exchange since 1997, EMF has become one of the leading distributors of language courses, media, clothing, cosmetics and children’s products in Central Europe. It includes well-known brands as Hugo Boss, River Island and Esprit. Our school has been recognized in the prestigious Book of Lists 2012 , taking first place in the category of number of students and offer. Speak Up specializes in teaching English to adults using a unique method that combines the most modern multimedia tools with classes conducted by highly qualified instructors. There are Speak Up schools all over Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
The Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group announces the beginning of our international campaign, “Prove They Are Alive!” The Goal of the Campaign is to uncover the truth about the fate of hundreds of people who have disappeared in Turkmen prisons as the result of massive repression that took place in the 2000s. Uncovering the truth about gross human rights violations by Turkmenistan’s authorities in the past and today will stop additional violations in the future. By raising the question of the fate of those people who have disappeared in Turkmenistan’s prisons on the international level, we begin to pave the way to addressing the systemic human rights violations committed by one of the most opaque and repressive regimes in the world.
14.12.2012 09:50 msk Turkmenistan
Turkmen students have everything that adults have, i.e. they unquestioningly obey their leadership, they cannot express their opinion if they differ from those of their leaders, be it a teacher, dean, vice chancellor or the chancellor himself. In a word, if they are told “it must be” then it must be. The chancellor himself (just like the president) admonishes them for smallest wrongdoings and marks the wrongdoing in the individual’s case file. Two such digressions lead to expulsion from university. The faults vary: using a mobile phone during a lecture, being late for class or returning to residence halls after 8 PM. Curfews are imposed in all the universities, with no exception, and on 5 December, when the meeting of the CIS heads of state was taking place in Ashkhabad, the halls’ doors were shut at 6 PM. Just in case something happened to the important guests… students who were late, as you might guess, got a strict telling off.
05.09.2012 14:21 msk Turkmenistan
The Park of Independence is undergoing reconstruction in Ashkhabad (Turkemistan). Fountains, paths, and young trees planted to replace of the previous old ones, all look beautiful only in their first year. Gradually, but relentlessly, time takes its destructive toll and the ostentatious luxury of the facades, does not hide the physical and social decay of the town. Finishings fall off, weeds growth through cracks in the tiles, rats and night visitors become the town’s guardians, leaving behind them vile piles of rubbish. Social activist and Ashkhabad resident Natalia Shabuntz told Fergana’s editorial team about how her disintegrating town.
Industrial action is extremely rare in Turkmenistan, because of the fear of retribution in this police state. But several localised strikes and protests in recent months suggest the government is prepared to make concessions on pay in order to keep the peace. In the latest dispute, the human rights website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported that workers building a major road bridge over the river Amu Darya in eastern Turkmenistan staged a strike in mid-August because they had not been paid for three months. The report said managers tried a mixture of threats and persuasion to try to get the builders back to work. The strike continued, however, and by the end of a week they were paid their back wages in full. Another protest over pay took place in April, when local employees of a Turkish construction company involved in building a five-star hotel at the Avaza resort, a flagship development on the Caspian coast.
The Turkmen government has made major cuts to the subsidies it has traditionally provided its population. In July, it removed a subsidy system for flour which had been in place for the last 15 years. Each household used to get coupons which they could exchange for flour at a special low price.
The Soviet-era practice of holding show trials for individuals accused of relatively minor economic crimes is alive and well in Turkmenistan, and local observers say that once in the system, defendants have no chance of a fair hearing. For the state, it is a demonstration of power, and for the security agencies, an opportunity to show they are fighting crime. The latest took place in the northern town of Dashoguz, and involved nine workers at a printing house, including the deputy director, who were convicted and imprisoned for stealing paper and using it to do private print jobs.
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