Central Asia Monitor 11 January 2013

by Central Asia Monitor on 1/11/2013

Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to Jointly Investigate Sokh Incident

Kyrgyzstan’s National Security Committee reported that talks were held between officials from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan regarding the hostage-taking incident in Sokh that began on 5 January. The governors of Uzbekistan’s Ferghana province and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province, representatives of each country’s border control agencies, and local government and law enforcement were all present. The sides agreed to sign a protocol detailing actions to be taken to resolve the incident next week. (8 January Regnum)

Uzbekistan to Compensate for Sokh Incident Damage

Shukhrat Ganiev, Governor of Ferghana, said that Uzbekistan intends to completely compensate residents of Batken province for damage caused during the recent outbreak of violence in the Sokh enclave. A spokesman for Batken’s government confirmed the Uzbek side’s plans. The scale of damage is to be determined by 21 January, and the commission investigating the incident will determine the appropriate level of compensation. (11 January Vecherniy Bishkek, KGInform)

Tajikistan Denies New Rules for Beards

The head of Tajikistan’s Committee for Religious Affairs, Abdurahim Kholikov, denies that new rules for beards and women’s clothing have been adopted. According to reports from a Tajikistani news agency that covers religion, the Ulema Council came up with new guidelines stating that men can have beards no larger than a fist. The agency’s source said the Ulema Council came up with the rule at the request of the Religious Affairs Committee. Kholikov said the reports are misinformation and that he has previously refrained from correcting them because the media, he claims, constantly distorts his remarks. Restrictions on religious practice and dress have increased in recent years in Tajikistan and there have been bans on beards for officials, teachers, and students as well as police harassment of men with beards. (8 January Tajikistan News)

…While Tajik Barbers Ordered to Stop Wet Shaves

Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health, noting that many barbers do not properly sanitize razors, has urged barbers to stop shaving customers. The measure is intended to slow the growing rate of HIV transmission in Tajikistan. The government claims there are 4,500 people infected with HIV in Tajikistan while UNAIDS estimates the number of infected to be closer to 11,000. (11 January Baltinfo, RIA Novosti)

Kyrgyz Economic Minister Calls for Tax Law Changes

Kyrgyzstan’s economic ministry on Tuesday estimated the country’s shadow economy to account for 39% of all economic activity. The ministry said that the state loses about 40% of the revenue it should be taking in because of unreported income, underpayment of taxes, and failure to purchase licenses. They said about half of all businesses pay wages in cash and do not withdraw taxes. Ecnomics Minister Temir Sariev said that the tax system needs to be reformed so that businesses can more easily pay taxes and that punishments for non-payment should be severe. (8 January FOR.kg)

Kyrgyzstan’s Muftiate Denounces French Magazine for Muhammad Comic

Kyrgyzstan’s muftiate denounced the French satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo for publishing a comic about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Though the magazine’s publisher believes that the educational comic is not offensive to Muslims, the muftiate disagrees, saying that it is impossible to visually portray the Prophet. They added that they believe the comic to be a provocation intended to incite an overreaction from younger, less educated Muslims so that Islam and the larger Muslim community can be vilified. (8 January FOR.kg)

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Supply Gas to Kyrgyzstan Under New Agreement

Kyrgyzstan has reached a deal with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for new natural gas prices. Under the new agreement, Kyrgyzstan will pay Uztransgaz US$290 and Kaztransgaz US$224 per 1,000 cubic meters. Earlier, Uztransgaz agreed to supply southern Kyrgyzstan 100 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2013 and Kaztransgaz agreed to supply 300 million cubic meters to northern Kyrgyzstan this year. Both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan suspended delivery of gas to Kyrgyzstan temporarily in December due to debts. (9-10 January Tazabek, Central Asia Online, and 12news.uz)

Demarcation of Kyrgyz-Kazakh Border to be Completed in 2013

Iskander Kurbanbaev, the Kyrgyzstani government official heading his government’s office for border delimitation and demarcation, said that demarcation of Kyrgyzstan’s border with Kazakhstan will be finished in 2013. The two countries has signed agreements defining their boundaries and have to install an additional 30 posts marking the border. (11 January 12news.uz)

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