Central Asia Monitor 1.23

by Central Asia Monitor on 12/7/2012

Chelakh Denies Killing Fellow Soldiers at Arkankergen Outpost

Appearing in court this week, Vladislav Chelakh, the border guard accused of killing his fellow servicemen at the Arkankergen border outpost, said the he did not commit any murders. He claims that unknown men in civilian clothing attacked the outpost. Chelakh said that he and another border guard fled during the attack, but that he hid a mile away after the two were separated. He said that he burned the outpost and a nearby hunters’ cabin because he thought that nobody would believe his story and that he would then be assumed dead. He said that he was tricked and coerced into confessing to the murders by a KNB agent who told him that his confession would help root out the real killers. (5 December Megapolis, Tengri News)

Uzbekistan Raises Water & Energy Issues at SCO Summit

Uzbekistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rustam Azimov, speaking at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Bishkek, said that water and energy projects in Central Asia should only be initiated after international economic and environmental assessment. He added that the interests of SCO member states should be considered in these assessments in order to preserve “stability, partnership, and good neighborliness in the space of the organization.” Uzbekistan, Azimov remarked, is ready for dialogue and cooperation with SCO members on these projects. Tashkent has sought to block hydroelectric projects in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for fear that they would disrupt the supply of water to Uzbekistan. (5 Dec Zakon.kz and Polit.uz)

Uzbekistan-Russia Remittance Turnover Grows 30%

The volume of remittances between Russia and Uzbekistan has grown 30% from between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012, according to the Central Bank of Russia. Over the last twelve months, US$1.969 billion was transferred from Russia to Uzbekistan compared to US$1.507 billion in the prior twelve month period. Meanwhile, the average sum of transfers from Russia to Uzbekistan dropped very slightly from $660 to $655. Uzbekistan is the leader in remittance volume among CIS states. Tajikistan comes in at second place with US$1.28 billion in transfers during the same 2011-2012 period, up from US$1.076 billion in the previous year. (5 December UzDaily)

Kazakhstan Bans Stan.tv…

A court in Almaty has ordered Stan.tv to be shut down after finding it guilty of violating Kazakhstan’s national security and extremism laws. Representatives of the media outlet were not present at the ruling because they were not told the date of their case. The case against Stan.tv is part of a large series of cases charging over 30 media outlets with spreading extremist messages for their coverage of the Zhanaozen clashes between police and striking oil workers. The judge in the Stan.tv case based his decision on three stories on the labor unrest and the government’s unwillingness to answer questions about the violence. (5-6 December Gazeta.kz, Tengri News, CPJ)

…And Temporarily Bans Guljan

In a separate case, the Bostandyk District Court in Almaty ordered the independent news site Guljan to suspend operations for three months. As with the Stan.tv case, Guljan was not informed of its court date, receiving its verdict from a court officer a day after the hearing. The judge gave no specific reason for the temporary ban, but did cite a complaint from a prosecutor in Almaty seeking suspension of the news organization. (5-6 December Tengri News, CPJ)

Prime Ministers Meet to Discuss Boosting Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan Trade…

Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov and Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Jantoro Stybaldiev met in Bishkek on 4 December to discuss expansion of trade and economic ties between their two countries. Prime Minister Akhmetov said that he thinks that trade turnover between the two countries could reach US$1 billion if the two sides work to develop bilateral trade agreements. The heads of state talked about solving Kazakhstan’s ongoing ban on the import of milk and dairy products from Kyrgyzstan. (4 December Tengri News, Tazabek)

…As China Seeks to Strengthen Economic Ties with Kyrgystan

China signed agreements to loan Kyrgyzstan US$136 million for improvements to the Osh-Batken-Isfana and Bishkek-Balykchy and to jointly construct a US$2 billion railway linking China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The two governments also discussed plans for economic cooperation over the next four years including the construction of a machine and tractor factory, exports of powdered milk to China, construction of an additional natural gas line linking China and Turkmenistan, and the construction of hydroelectric plants on the Sary-Jaz river in Issyk-Kul province. (7 December InfoSHOS)

Kazakhstan Agrees to Allow Kyrgyz Dairy Imports

Kazakhstan announced on 5 December that it will allow the import of dairy products from Kyrgyzstan under certain conditions. Kyrgyzstan’s Agriculture Minister, Chingisbek Uzakbaev, told parliament that Kazakhstan will allow imports of dry milk and dairy products that have either been double pasteurized or pasteurized above 72 degrees. A representative of Kyrgyzstan’s Association of Milk Producers said that the decision is “better than nothing,” and that efforts will be needed quickly to ensure that there is sufficient industrial capacity to process the large increase in milk production that will come when calving season begins in February and March. (5-6 December Regnum)

Kyrgyzstan Suspends License of Russian Mining Company

Kyrgyzstan’s Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources announced that it has suspended the license of a Russian company, AZInternational, to explore for gold in the “April” deposit near the village of Katran in Batken province. Vladimir Smirnov, chairman of AZInternational’s board, said that representatives from the company met with residents of Katran on 1 December, but that the villagers seemed absolutely determined to prevent further mining activity at the site. Smirnov said he believes that the locals are acting on behalf of forces who want the Russian company’s license cancelled and speculated that Islamic extremist groups are behind the conflict. On 22 November, residents of Katran attacked and pillaged the camp site of geologists conducting exploration at the site. During a protest several days prior, they said they were concerned the mine would pollute the village’s water supply. (4 December Zakon)


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