Central Asia Monitor 1.19

by Central Asia Monitor on 11/2/2012

Tajik Ministry of Justice Moves Prison Out of Central Dushanbe

A Dushanbe prison which holds approximately 2,000 prisoners will be moved out of the center of Tajikistan’s capital and to the near-by city of Vahdat. The Dushanbe prison was built in 1935 and designed to hold up to 1,500 prisoners.  According to a source at the Tajik Ministry of Justice, the plans for the new prison began in 2010, and construction will be completed within the next two years. In August 2010 25 prisoners broke out of the Dushanbe prisoner, overpowering and killing five guards.  According the Ministry of Justice source, the prison is moving due to the worn-down nature of the building, and the need to build a prison that is up to “international standards.” (AsiaPlus, 29 October)- AL

Russia adopts language law for migrants…

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, has adopted a law requiring labor migrants working in Russia’s trade, social service, and maintenance sectors to know basic Russian. The law will take affect on December 1. After that, migrants will be required to pass a language test and receive a certificating supporting his knowledge of Russian to receive a work permits. A member of the Duma said that 160 test centers across Russia have already been licensed to administer the tests. Tens of thousands of Central Asians—primarily citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan—come to Russia as labor migrants each year. While these migrants often take jobs that many Russians will not do, their presence has become a point of increasing ethnic tension in the Russian society. (RFE/RL 26 October) -MK

While Kazakhstan introduces new restrictions for labor migrants

Kazakhstan’s government is planning to implement a new law that would bar migrant workers from retail and small-scale trading. The law is expected to have a significant effect on Tajik migrants. Of the 100,000 Tajiks working in Kazakhstan, about 70,000 work in retail and trading, selling produce from Tajikistan in Kazakhstan’s markets. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade in Tajikistan said it is working with Kazakhstan’s government to change the requirements. It also pointed out that the law would raise prices for consumers in Kazakhstan by requiring trade to be funneled through intermediaries. (Regnum 31 October) – NH

According to Kyrgyz security service, Islamic extremism on the rise 

The Chairman of the State Committee of National Security in Kyrgyzstan, Shamil Atakhanov, recently stated that Islamic extremism is on the rise, and claimed that there are active cells of eight terrorist organizations in the country. In an interview with Azattyk, Atakhanov specifically named three organizations: Hizb-ut Tahrir, the Movement of Islamic Unity, and Al-Qaeda. He also suggested that Hizb-ut Tahrir is the most active, having created a significant network over the past 20 years, but also emphasized the need to focus on the Movement of Islamic Unity, which is growing in Afghanistan. In addition to the organizations named by Atakhanov, the following organizations have been officially declared extremist in Kyrgyzstan: the Taliban, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the People’s Congress of Kurdistan, the National Liberation Movement of East Turkestan, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. (Azattyk 29 October) -MK

UN Deputy Secretary General visits Uzbekistan

The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UN Deputy Secretary General Babatunde Osotimehin visited Uzbekistan on October 30 to meet with Minister of Health Anvar Alimov and discuss collaboration in the field of public health. In the meeting, Osotimehin commended Uzbekistan’s implementation of programs aimed at improving the health and welfare of the population, referring to the fact that 99 percent of births take place in hospitals as one of Uzbekistan’s major medical achievements. Osotimehin also visited the Republican Perinatal Central and praised its work promoting increased use of medical technology and innovation in the field of obstetrics. As in much of Soviet Union, the quality of healthcare significantly declined in Uzbekistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since 1990, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 50 deaths per 100,000 live births to only 30, according to a 2011 UN report. (CA News 29 Oct) – MK

Kyrgyzstan’s PM rejects retaliation for Kazakh trade restrictions

Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev criticized the leadership of the Ministry of Economy for issuing a report on 25 October saying that Kyrgyzstan could impose a ban on imports of animal products from Kazakhstan to retaliate for Astana’s ban of such items from Kyrgyzstan. Satybaldiev instructed the economic, agricultural, and food safety ministries to avoid creating misunderstandings, and stressed the Kyrgyzstan has no plans to retaliate against Kazakhstan for the ban. (Tazabek 29 October) – NH

Tashkent Police Break up Yunus-Abad Flea Market

According to UzNews, police in Tashkent shut down the Yunus-Aabad flea market. For the past several years, sellers at this pop-up market set up for several hours on Saturdays and Sundays to sell used clothing, dishes, books, and household wares. Complaints from the director of a nearby school and kindergarten were reportedly the reason for the market’s shutdown. According to Uznews, merchants at the market believe the market was shut down because it spoils the image of prosperity the government tries to cultivate. There are also unconfirmed reports of several other flea markets being forced to close. Many of the merchants at flea markets are pensioners trying to supplement their pensions by selling personal goods.(Uznews 31 October) – NH

Merchants in Eastern Turkmenistan Defy Closure Order

The opposition website Chronicle of Turkmenistan reported that merchants in Farab in Lebap province refused to follow a decree from the local government to greatly limit trading hours as a result of the cotton harvest. Trading had been restricted from 18:00 – 22:00 as a result of the orders, and police had patrolled the market area to enforce the restrictions. However, on the morning of 1 November, the market’s traders defied the order and proceeded to trade. Though police were present, they made no efforts to halt trading. Though Turkmenistan’s cotton harvest is officially complete, locals report that it is ongoing in Lepab. Merchants in Farab reportedly said that because the harvest is officially complete, all restrictions on trading should end. (Khronika Turkmenistana, 1 November) – NH

Kyrgyzstan Working on Plan to Join Customs Union…

Regional media report that Kyrgyzstan is finalizing plans for accession to the Eurasian Economic Community, the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union. By the end of 2013, a roadmap outlining the process for Kyrgyzstan to join the customs union should be complete. (Vzglyad 29 October) – NH

While Russia’s Customs Chief Says Tajikistan Cannot Possibly Join without Kyrgyzstan

Andrei Belyaninov, the head of Russia’s Federal Customs Service, said that it is difficult to conceive of Tajikistan joining the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) without Kyrgyzstan being a member. His remarks came during a meeting with representatives of Kyrgyzstan’s customs service. Belyaninov added that WTO membership is not an obstacle to (EEC) membership and that legislation is being developed to resolve tensions between memberships in both bodies. (Rosbalt 1 November) – NH


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