Central Asia Monitor 1.17

by Central Asia Monitor on 10/23/2012

Russian Handbook for Central Asian Labor Migrants Causes Offense

A Russian manual for labor migrants from Central Asia has stirred up controversy due to its allegedly racist content. “Instructions for Labor Migrants,” printed in St. Petersburg by the NGO Look to the Future, depicts a group of migrants as anthropomorphic construction tools traveling around the St. Petersburg and interacting with human beings. Besides informing migrants of the laws of the Russian Federation, the booklet also presents social advice that some have found stereotypical, discouraging migrants from spitting or squatting in the street, wearing national costumes every day, and wearing track suits or bathrobes in public. Though initially reported as a project of the city, the St. Petersburg administration has since denied involvement in the publication, attributing it entirely to Look to the Future. According to RFE/RL, the local prosecutor’s office has launched a preliminary investigation into the manual, which was published in Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tajik, and Russian. (RFE/RL, RIA Novosti 19 Oct) – MK

Russia May Begin Mandating Foreign Passports from All CIS Citizens, Says Migration Services

The head of Russia’s Federal Migration Services echoed a statement by the leader of the Drug Control Services suggesting that all citizens of CIS member states should be required to carry foreign passports when traveling in or migrating to Russia. Konstantine Romodanosky, the Migration Services chief, stated that mandating foreign passports for citizens of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan was a top priority. Currently, internal passports from Belarus, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are accepted in Russia in place of foreign passports. These countries have independent agreements with the Russia allowing for foreign-passport free travel. Romodanosky argued that changing the rules to require foreign passports would ultimately make it easier for migrants who remaining in Russia long-term by reducing bureaucracy. (Ozodi, 22 Oct) – AL

Prosecutor Requests 15-year Sentence for Former Kyrgyzstan Government Minister

A prosecutor in Bishkek’s Pervomaisky district court requested a sentence of 15 years imprisonment for former Social Development Minister Ravshan Sabirov. Sabirov stands accused of taking bribes in return for giving out child adoption liscenses to an Italian company. The ex-minister’s attorney claims that the charges are entirely based on the statement of Sabirov’s former assistant, Tahir Mirzametov, who recently recanted his testimony. The prosecutor also requested a 14-year sentence for Mirzametov. The Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal investigation into Sabirov in July 2012 based on the testimony of Mirzametov, who admitted extorting money for his boss, and Sabirov was arrested on July 5. But, while Mirzametov admitted his guilt and requested a lesser sentence because of his wife and small child, Sabirov maintains his innocence, claiming he never took bribes. The judge will issue a verdict on October 31. (Kloop.kg 23 Oct) – MK

Winter Electricity Rationing Begins in Tajikistan

Official electricity rationing, which began in some rural areas of Tajikistan earlier this month, spread to the city of Kulob this week. According to a city administrator, the city of Kulob will be reduced to 12 hours of electricity per day, while the surrounding region will receive 11 hours of electricity per day. Kulob is the third largest urban area in Tajikistan. Generally, electricity rationing in Tajikistan begins in late October or early November and lasts through March or April, depending on the intensity of the winter. In the past, most regions excluding Dushanbe have been limited to 12 or less hours of electricity per day in order to cut consumption during the winter. According to the Kulob city administrator who spoke with AsiaPlus, excessive use of water was a major concern and was leading to overconsumption of electricity in Kulob. (AsiaPlus, 22 Oct) – AL

Ferghana Students Warned of the Dangers of Religious Extremism…

On 22 October, over 200 students in grades 6 – 9 attended an assembly as part of a campaign to educate youth on the dangers of religious extremists. The imam-khatib of the Kuvasay city mosque told the students that religious movements in Islam are the guardians of spiritual values, but that groups that support the use of violence try to cloud believers’ minds and use them to sell drugs and weapons and to organize terrorist attacks. The head of the Ferghana city Department for Spiritual Propaganda told the children that anyone wishing to receive religious education should seek it in specialized institutions, warning that doing otherwise risks falling into extremism. In recent years, official religious propaganda has shifted toward broad themes and values rather than targeting specific organizations. (12news.uz 22 Oct) – NH

…While Uzbek Officials and Analysts Declare IMU to be Nearing Extinction

A story in the U.S. Central Command funded Central Asia Online reports that experts in Uzbekistan believe the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to be nearing extinction. The story carries quotes from a political scientist and a counter-terrorism officer in the National Security Service who say that battlefield deaths of IMU leaders are making recruitment difficult for and creating divisions within the organization. Further, they say funding problems force the group to rely on raids and smuggling to survive. These analysts say that if trends continue, the IMU will barely exist next spring. Such acknowledgment that terrorist organizations pose little physical security threat are rare in Uzbekistan, but are important as they partially undercut regional governments’ claims to be threatened by specific Islamist organizations rather than Islam in general. This story has been republished in whole on pro-Government of Uzbekistan news sites. (Central Asia Online 19 Oct, 12news.uz 22 Oct) – NH

Kazakhstan Strengthening Combat Capabilities in Caspian

Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Defense, said in Aktau on 18 October that Kazakhstan is strengthening its forces in the Caspian Sea to enhance the country’s security. He said that Kazakhstan’s Caspian forces are being outfitted with modern weaponry and technology so that they can “defend the Caspian region on the water, on land, and in the sky.” During his visit to Aktau, he presented the battle flags of naval and air bases established last year and the ensign of the domestically produced missile artillery ship “Kazakhstan.” (Azattyk 18 Oct, KZinform 20 Oct) – NH

Kazakhstan and Austria Sign Agreements Worth 170 Million Euros

Kazakhstan and Austria signed 19 agreements worth over 170 million Euros on October 23 at the Kazakh-Austrian Economic Forum, according to TenriNews. The forum, held in Vienna, was attended by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Austrian President Heinz Fischer. The first document signed was a memorandum establishing the Kazakh-Austrian Business Council. According to Kaznex Index Invest, ten of the documents deal with investment and are valued at 158.7 million Euros. Of particular note, Kazakhstan’s state-owned KazMunaiGas and Austria’s OMV Petrom S.A. signed a memorandum of mutual understanding on joint exploration and production of oil and gas in Kazakhstan, the sale of oil products in Turkey, cooperation in OMV Petrom S.A.’s projects abroad and in oil and gas engineering in Kazakhstan. Other agreements signed dealt with the development of copper-molybdenum deposits, production of motors, tourism, manufacture of medical products, production of precast concrete systems, and the production of inductive sensor technology in Kazakhstan. (TengriNews 23 Oct) – MK

Turkmenistan to Modernize Cellular Services

According to a State News Agency report, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Communications announced on 22 October that several contracts will be signed to improve the country’s cellular network capacity and service quality. The report says that according to a presidential decree, contracts will be signed with China’s Huawei Technologies for the purchase and installation of CDMA equipment on the network owned by the state provider, Altyn Asyr. An additional equipment contract will be signed with the German Nokia Siemens and a contract for services to improve billing and to assist in the introduction of new services will be signed with East Wind, a Russian company. (CA-NEWS 22 Oct) – NH

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