Central Asia Monitor 07 January 2013

by Central Asia Monitor on 1/7/2013 · 2 comments

Hostages Taken in Uzbek-Kyrgyz Border Clash

Residents of Sokh, an Uzbek enclave in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province, attacked Kyrgyz border guards and took Kyrgyz citizens hostage in events that began on 5 January, when residents of the Sokh village Hoshyar reportedly attacked Kyrgyz border guards overseeing installation of electricity lines at a border post. The initial attack was dispersed, but Sokh residents returned a day later and took hostages. Kyrgyz vehicles driving through the enclave were also attacked and passengers were taken hostage. Authorities in Sokh negotiated the release of all 30 hostages on 7 January. The National Security Service of Uzbekistan released a statement blaming Kyrgyz border guards for starting the conflict by opening fire on Sokh residents protesting the placement of electricity towers. (7 January RFE/RL, Zamondosh, and Tengri News)

Kyrgyz Border Service Predicts More Clashes until Uzbek-Kyrgyz Border Settled

The Deputy Chairman of the State Border Service of Kyrgyzstan, Iskender Mambetaliev, said that incidents like the one that occurred at the Sokh enclave will repeat until the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan is fully delimited. He said that local law enforcement can continue to keep order and negotiate resolution of individual incidents, but that they are unable to address to root of the clashes. He encourages accelerated delimitation and demarcation of the border. Negotiations on the remaining 345 kilometers of border that have not been delimited have been suspended. (7 January Kabar and 24.kg)

Emails Link Gulnara Karimova to TeliaSonera Scandal

Swedish prosecutors included emails showing that TeliaSonera executives knew they were negotiating with Gulnara Karimova for access to the Uzbek telecoms sector in a court filing asking for the assets of TeliaSonera’s Uzbek partner, Takilant, to be frozen. TeliaSonera has maintained that it had no idea that Karimova was involved in the deal, but the emails clearly indicate that her involvement was critical to securing wireless spectrum. TeliaSonera is accused of having paid $250 million to Karimova to gain access to 3G spectrum in Uzbekistan. (3-4 January Svenska Dagbladet)

Uzbekistan Rings in the New Year with Higher Taxes, Prices

Among the new laws that went into effect at the beginning of 2013 in Uzbekistan, several increased tax rates and subsequently, consumer prices, according to Olam.uz. Though income and social welfare tax rates have remained more or less steady, taxes on petrol consumption and cellular service providers have increased. In the case of petrol, prices at the pump have already increased, and Olam.uz expects the 25% increase in the tax charged to mobile operators for every subscriber number to be passed to consumers. (6 January Olam.uz)

New Television Channels Launched in Uzbekistan

On 31 December, Uzbekistan’s state television and radio company launched two new television channels. The first, Culture and Enlightenment, is intended to “preserve and develop national culture” and to encourage young Uzbeks to become more interested in their cultural heritage, according to state news agency UzA. The other, Around the World, is partially aimed at foreign audiences, and is to highlight tourism opportunities in Uzbekistan. In recent years, there has been a renewed push in Uzbek media to promote “traditional values” and respect for Uzbekistan’s territory and culture as cornerstones of social peace and prosperity. (2 January UzA)

Turkmen Human Rights Site Responds to Hacking Attack

Farid Tukhbatullin, Chief Editor of Chronicles of Turkmenistan, a news site reporting on human rights in Turkmenistan, responded to a December attack, presumably by the government of Turkmenistan, that took their site down. Tukhbatullin said that the site reports on the human rights situation in Turkmenistan in hopes that authorities will address the country’s problems. The site, he said, will remain a non-political human rights organization, but in response to the attack, it will expand its cooperation with foreign journalists and experts and support peaceful initiatives in Turkmenistan. (6 January Chronicles of Turkmenistan)

NATO Pledges Support to Tajikistan for Destruction of Munitions Stocks

Tajikistan’s parliament ratified an agreement with NATO to destroy landmines and to improve the security and management of munitions stockpiles. The alliance will work with Tajik military engineers and soldiers to form a weapons and ammunition disposal team and to destroy antipersonnel mines on Tajikistan’s borders. Once formed, the team will work to locate weapons and ammunition stockpiles and move serviceable munitions to better storage facilities. The team will also work to survey and secure munitions storage sites on the border with Afghanistan. NATO hopes the project will reduce illegal cross-border weapons trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. (3 January Avesta)

Kazakhstan’s Government Decrees Acceptance of Bank Card Payments

The Government of Kazakhstan has ordered wholesalers and retailers to accept payment by bank cards and has decreed that debit cards must be accepted in hotels, restaurants, air and rail transportation, insurance, tour operations, health, education, theaters, fitness clubs, and discos. Exceptions to the requirement are allowed for agricultural producers and at kiosks, mobile shops, and markets. (4 January Bankir)

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Benaris Moda January 8, 2013 at 1:50 am

The news about brand new television channels launched in Uzbekistan are really positive, especially if they are oriented to preserve their own culture and local heritage. In these times of globalization we need to put a lot of effort to keep our culture safe.

tnerb January 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Keeping your culture safe? Keeping safe from what? Don’t be isolationist. Isolating yourself will result in backwardness.

Central Asia has always been on the fringes of civilizations. The region NEEDS to be a part of globalization in order to catch up with others. Only when you look beyond what your eyes can see you will be able to discover that many things are done better elsewhere and you learn from them. You can’t do this if you are paranoid and try to “keep your culture safe.”

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