News Digest

Dec 06, 2020

Media Digest

Dec 06, 2020


Biweekly CAW Media Digest.
The Digest provides updates on
the most recent developments in Central Asia.
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Exiled opposition figure and multi-millionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov still seems to be the kryptonite of Kazakh domestic politics. His attempts to reach out to voters before the January elections could be seen as an attempt to stimulate a Belarus-style contested election, but no domestic parties or public figures want to be depicted as associating with the oligarch.
Kazakhstan is on course to be one of the first countries to roll out the Russian-developed Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines. Production in Kazakhstan will start on December 22, and the public can expect vaccines early next year.
The legal saga surrounding former president Almazbek Atambayev rolls on, with previous convictions overturned and a new court date set. Having been broken out of jail during the election protests and then surviving an assassination attempt, Atambayev still faces a laundry list of criminal charges.
A ruling from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court has brought an end to efforts to rein in the interim parliament. The governing body had been cobbled together after massive protests and unrest following a disputed election, but officials have repeatedly attempted to extend their mandate and push back re-elections.
Two years after a surprise ban on female drivers, Turkmen officials seem to once again be accepting documents and applications for licenses. The authoritarian state is well known for its often arbitrary policies, but the 2019 decision to impede female car owners and drivers has led to relatively strong push-back.
A Russian political pundit's warning for Turkmenistan highlights the risks of foregoing Russian support. Turkmenistan has attempted to pursue a strictly neutral foreign policy since independence, but Russia remains intent on loyalty from the states of its near-abroad.
The Kazakh and Uzbek Prime Ministers jointly opened a textile factory in southern Kazakhstan, illustrating a strengthening economic connection between the two countries. Bilateral trade in 2019 grew by 21 percent, and the two giants of Central Asia seem poised to increase trade after decades of Uzbek isolation.
A CABAR report examines the current state of sensitive language policy in the five Central Asian states. Each country has pursued its own path when it comes to the Russian language of their former overlords as well as their own titular and minority languages.
It's not 2001 anymore, and a changing Central Asia presents new opportunities and challenges for the incoming Biden administration. More engagement and investment, even at moderate levels, could result in a large payoff for US interests.
Central Asia's traditional struggles with digital connectivity have only worsened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing the so-called "digital divide." A World Bank briefing highlighted the importance of strengthening infrastructure and regulation in order to reap the economic benefits that better digital connectivity would bring.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), formed two decades ago, continues to play an odd yet strategic role in Central Asia. Russian and Chinese founding members are keen to stress that it is not a mirror of NATO, but the organization's growing and shifting influence has often placed it at odds with US foreign policy in the region.

CAW Team