Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre.
Authorities continued harassment of opposition groups and activists ahead of parliamentary elections in January. Central Election Commission (OSK) 10 Dec launched parliamentary campaign, due to run until 9 Jan, with no opposition parties listed on ballot; opposition movement Halyq Biligi (People’s Rule) 22 Dec demanded postponement of parliamentary elections, citing lack of opposition parties’ participation. In Almaty city, opposition groups 16 Dec marched in unauthorised protest to demand release of political prisoners, fair parliamentary elections and registration of opposition parties. Meanwhile, authorities continued to target civil society and opposition. Notably, coalition of international NGOs 3 Dec said that tax authorities had notified 13 human rights organisations for alleged financial reporting violations in Oct-Nov, including “incorrectly completed declaration forms relating to foreign income”, which carries fine and suspension of activities penalties. Court in north-western city of Aqtobe 21 Dec sentenced activist Alibek Moldin to one year of “freedom limitation’’ for leading banned Koshe party, associated with proscribed opposition party Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan. Authorities in Aqtobe same day forcibly admitted activist Asanali Suyubaev to psychiatric clinic; Suyubaev accused of tearing down poster of ruling Nur Otan party. In city of Keles, district court 22 Dec sentenced activist Marat Duisembiev to three and a half years of “freedom limitation” for involvement with banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan party.
Kazakhstan’s wish for stability and continuity under long-serving President Nazarbayev trumps the will for political change, especially given turbulence elsewhere on Russia’s borders. But without economic reform, full ethnic equality and a political succession plan, the Central Asian country risks becoming another brittle post-Soviet state vulnerable to external destabilisation.
Resource-led economic growth cannot mask the need for reforms in Kazakhstan as labour unrest, social divisions and a growing Islamist movement threaten the country’s stability.
China’s influence is growing rapidly in Central Asia at a time when the region is looking increasingly unstable.
The economic crisis has caused millions of migrant labourers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to lose their jobs in the boom economies of Russia and Kazakhstan.
The Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commencing on 3 May 2003 is an opportunity to assess frankly and honestly the records of the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Competition for water is increasing in Central Asia at an alarming rate, adding tension to what is already an uneasy region.
The new Kazakh military doctrine is a clear reference to Ukraine. The Kazakh doctrine is very similar to the doctrine Belarus adopted in 2016, but Minsk was more explicit about learning lessons from Ukraine.
Originally published in Eurasianet
In late 2014, consultant and former Crisis Group researcher, Varvara Pakhomenko, journeyed to the northern Kazakh steppe, and the towns and villages along Kazakhstan’s Russian border, to learn more about the interwoven relationship between the Kazakh and Russian speakers of the area.