Communications Blockade Preventing Remittances From Reaching Khorog

Because internet communications have been cut to Khorog in the wake of July’s violence, residents are struggling to receive remittances and money transfers. Although mobile-phone connectivity was partially restored to the city on July 28, internet connections remain down. Many residents of Khorog are reliant upon internet-based banking transactions to receive money transfers from relatives living abroad or elsewhere in Tajikistan. According to the Aga Khan Development Network, 43% of Tajikistan’s GDP comes from remittances, placing it among the most remittance-reliant countries in the world. The problem is exacerbated in Badakhshan, where people also often rely on money transfers from elsewhere in Tajikistan. Tajikistan’s Head of Communications maintains that the lack of connection in Khorog was not deliberate, and that internet would be restored soon. (AsiaPlus 3 August)

Officials Deny Afghans to be Expelled from Tajikistan

Tajik and Afghan officials denied rumors originating in the Russian-language media that Afghan migrants could be expelled from Tajikistan. Both the head of Tajikistan’s migration service and the cultural attache of the Afghan embassy in Tajikistan told Radio Ozodi said that migrants legally present within Tajikistan were in no danger of deportation. The Afghan cultural attache noted that while Afghanistan.ru cited an unnamed source associated with the Afghan embassy as the origin of the rumor, the embassy officially refutes the story and will publish a formal denial of the statement. The Tajik Migration Services released a statement calling the rumor unfounded and told Radio Ozodi that the Tajik government had not planned any deportations. (Radio Ozodi,3 August)

IMU Announces Death of Emir 

On 3 August the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s official website Furqon.comacknowledged the death of Usmon Odil, its leader. Odil had reportedly taken the reigns of the organization following the death of its previous emir and ideological founder, Tohir Yo’ldosh, in a 2009 rocket attack attributed to the United States. No further information about the circumstances or exact date of Odil’s death were given, but the site indicates he will be replaced by another member known as Usmon Ghozi. (Furqon.com, 3 August;BBC Uzbek, 4 August). – NT

Kyrgyzstan holds first forum for people living with HIV/AIDS

Kyrgyzstan is holding the first conference of people living with HIV/AIDS in Bishkek. Over 60 individuals from all regions of the republic were invited to take part in the event, which runs from August 4-8. The participants include Vice-Prime Minister Gulnara Asymbekova; representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare, AIDS centers, medical facilities, and international organizations; activists from non-governmental organizations (NGO), and people living with HIV/AIDS. According to the Ministry of Health, the goal of the forum is to mobilize people living with HIV/AIDS in preventing the spread of the virus, coordinate NGO efforts, and develop recommendations for policy makers. Though rates of HIV remain low in Kyrgyzstan and largely concentrated among intravenous drug users, they are nonetheless on the rise. Additionally, in the last several years, nearly 300 children have been infected with HIV in hospitals in the south of the country. (CentrAsia, 4 August; AKI Press 3 August)—MK

False University Diplomas Sold in Northern Tajikistan

A group of eight people were found guilty of running a false diploma ring in Tajikistan’s second largest city, Khujand. Reportedly, the group charged fees to counterfeit diplomas from the Khujand State University and Russian New University. The members of the diploma counterfeiting group included three employees of Khujand State University; the others were members of the Khujand community with access to necessary technology. Earlier this year, a separate diploma counterfeiting group was shut down in Dushanbe. Corruption is a large problem in Tajik universities but usually takes the form of students bribing professors and administrators for better exam scores. The average annual cost of tuition in Tajik universities is 2,000 USD per year, and counterfeit diplomas have sold for up for 800 USD. (Ozodagon, 6 August)

Sycophantic Uzbek Official Media Joins Googoosha PR Team… 

Officially-supported media in Uzbekistan last week reprinted claims from first daughter (and newly aspiring pop star) Gulnara Karimova’s PR website that a single, “Round Run,” from her eponymous album had charted in Billboard magazine as #5 on “breakouts for hot dance party play.” The story quickly sparked a response on social and independent media, where commenters noted that according to Billboard.com none of Googoosha’s songs have ever charted in the U.S. or elsewhere. (UzDaily, 2 August; Uznews.net, 3 August) – NT

… And Kindly Reminds Residents the Government is Reading Their Mail 

Olam.uz ran a story on 3 August titled “Uzbekistani Customs Stop the Flow of Contraband Religious Literature” that claimed—reassuringly of course—that Customs agents at the Central Post Office identified and seized packages containing Jehovah’s Witnesses religious literature during routine searches of all incoming mail “for customs purposes.” In spite of regular pressure, imprisonment and recent deportations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not categorically banned in Uzbekistan; the legal right to possess or share religious literature of any kind remains a murky (and unpredictable) area for Uzbeks of all faiths. (Olam.uz, 3 August) – NT

Chinese Bank and Kyrgyz government discuss debt, development projects

A working group from Chinese state-owned Ex-Im Bank met with the the Kyrgyzstan Ministry of Finance’s State Secretary, Dinara Shaidieva, on August 5 to discuss continued cooperation between the two nations. During the meeting the Shaidieva asked the bank to consider cancelling Kyrgyzstan’s 62.5 million Yuan debt and converting it into a grant. The head of Ex-Im’s delegation promised that the Board of Directors would consider the request. The working group also discussed several joint projects currently in the works: rehabilitation of the “Bishkek-Naryn-Torugart” highway, power line modernization in Osh Province, and the construction of the “Datka-Kemin” 500 kV power transmission lines. (KGInform.com, 5 August) – MK

Turkmen President Leads Scheduled Meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers

Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov led a meeting of his cabinet ministers focusing on the socio-economic development of the country in the first seven months of the year. According to the government, retail business increased 15.1% over last year and government revenues and disposable income have increased as well. Various government ministers also announced positive developments in such economic spheres as the oil and gas industry, textile industry, and national fisheries. There were also discussions of the continued economic and humanitarian development between Russia and Turkmenistan, as well as details of the Mukhammedov’s upcoming visit to Turkey this month. From the proceedings of this meeting it appears that this has been a strong year thus far for Turkmenistan with no apparent downsides. (IP Turkmeninform 4 August). – JL



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