Analytical materials

Pros and Cons of the Tajik Strategy Against Extremism and Terrorism

cabar.asia 15.11.19

Tajikistan’s strategy to counter extremism and terrorism recognizes the importance of attracting civil society institutions and every citizen, Tajik political analyst Sherali Rizoyon notes in his article written specifically for CABAR.asia.


Follow us on Facebook


Short overview of the article

  • In the 2000s, there was a process of moving away from secular values among young people in Tajikistan; 
  • In 2014-2016 there was an increase in the involvement of citizens in the organization of the Islamic State (IS). Recruitment mainly occurred among labor migrants. Recruiters also used social media;
  • In the same years, a need arose for the development of a comprehensive state policy to counter extremism and terrorism;
  • The National Strategy for Combating Extremism and Terrorism for 2016-2020 adopted by Tajikistan recognizes extremism and terrorism as a complex problem;

Identity crisis: “Soviet” tools no longer work
The country’s experience in the prevention of extremism can be divided into several stages, which reflect the current internal socio-political processes, as well as international trends in the light of the activation of terrorist groups and the actualization of extremism as a negative phenomenon.[1] Today, Tajikistan and other countries of the region have entered the post-radicalization stage, and therefore the problems of extremism and terrorism absorb a new content. In this vein, a media report on the liquidation of the leader of the Islamic State (IS) organization Al-Baghdadi can lead to diametrically opposite consequences. It can be assumed that the same structure will appear on the basis of the IS, but it will already be more stable and organized. The IS phenomenon showed that extremists, speculating on problems in the communities where Muslims live, can relatively easily recruit supporters there.
In this light, the main challenge is to design a policy for the re-socialization and rehabilitation of individuals (as well as members of their families, primarily wives and children who have experience of living in territories controlled by IS and other terrorist organizations). Given this factor, an analysis of the “National Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan on Countering Extremism and Terrorism for 2016-2020”[2] (hereinafter referred to as the “National Strategy-NS”) can show how timely the adoption of this document was, and what additional mechanisms should be developed for the new iteration.
Tajikistan has been among the first states in the post-Soviet space, which faced with a surge of extremist ideology, and it has been the first to develop and adopt a document in the form of a National Strategy. Thus, a brief analysis of the national experience of Tajikistan is of both theoretical and methodological and practical importance.

List of wanted Tajikistanis participating in armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Spitamen district of Sughd region, 2017. Photo: Negmatullo Mirsaidov / orien.info

Analysis of the situation on countering and preventing extremism and terrorism (before the adoption of the National Strategy)
An essential element of the radicalization of citizens, primarily youth in the 2000s, is that there was a process of moving away from secular values. This process can be explained by the phenomena associated with the search for identity: more precisely, with the identity crisis that was observed during this period.
The highlight was that the tools developed during the Soviet period and at the dawn of independence which can influence the formation of the youth worldview no longer worked. Existing traditions have less and less influence on the beliefs of young people. This process was accompanied by an external ideological onslaught. Young people who received religious education abroad began to impose the “right” Islam. When existing values ​​were largely discredited, and new ones were not yet formed, an ideological gap arose that was actively filled by adherents of radical organizations, recruiting young people into their ranks.
These processes began in the 2000s in cities where active “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” cells were identified, with the participation, of educated youth from wealthy families. After the 2005s, Salafism gained popularity as a youth subculture. The analysis of media materials and the results of field studies show that in those years, active Salafi cells formed in the cities. At the same time, during the 2000s, in the rural areas, primarily in the north of Tajikistan, the IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and others intensified. Already after 2010, recruitment of citizens intensified in both cities and rural areas to Ansarulloh, Dzhundulloh, and etc.
To date, 20 organizations and groups in Tajikistan have been declared terrorist and extremist by decision of the Supreme Court and their activities are banned in the republic.[3] Most of the ban decisions were made in the 2000s.
To understand the characteristics of the growth of extremist ideas, it is important to consider the following points:
Location factor. The first cells of extremist organizations appeared in the early 2000s in cross-border regions. This is, first of all, the north of Tajikistan – the Ferghana Valley, where society is more conservative. The Ferghana Valley itself is located at the junction of three states, where urban centers maintain economic and cultural ties. Therefore, the trends that were observed in the Ferghana Valley essentially influenced the religious environment of all states (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Another important influential factor can be called the situation in Afghanistan, where a civil war has taken place for 40 years, and the opposing parties of Islamic persuasion are the active parties.
The factor of religious identity. After the 2000s, the whole process of changing the religious identity of citizens was observed in the country. It was especially pronounced among residents of cities and labor  migrants. During the same period, the process of growth of religious self-awareness among labor migrants, who increasingly practiced Islam different from traditional, began. During this period, there was also a process of alienation from national and “post-Soviet” traditions and customs, the question was raised how much it is acceptable for Muslims to celebrate Navruz, New Year, and etc.   

Trends in radicalization before the adoption of the National Strategy. 
For the first time in the modern history of Tajikistan, a suicide attack took place. The incident happened in Khujand, in September 2010, in front of the building of the Regional Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (RDCOC/ РУБОП) of the Administration of Ministry of Internal Affairs (УМВД) of the Sughd Region. A terrorist from the extremist organization “Jamoati Ansorulloh” crashed into the RDCOC building in a car filled with explosives during a morning meeting. This fact shows the growing threat of extremist ideology, since, for 5 years of the civil war of 1992-1997. warring parties did not use suicide bombers.

In September 2010, for the first time in the history of Tajikistan, a suicide attack took place near the RDCOC building in Khujand. Photo: ozodi.org

In 2014-2016 there was an increase in the involvement of citizens into the IS organization. According to field studies, recruitment mainly occurred among labor migrants. Recruiters also used social networks.
According to the State National Security Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan on November 19, 2018, a total number of 1,899 Tajik citizens joined the IS terrorists.[4] A significant part of them was recruited precisely in 2014-2016, and this happened in conditions of labor migration.
Thus, in the same years, a need arose for the development of a comprehensive state policy to counter extremism and terrorism, as well as for the rehabilitation of civilian members of terrorist groups who realized the harmfulness of their actions.

Structure analysis of the National Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan on countering extremism and terrorism for 2016-2020
By a decree of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmon, dated November 12, 2016, the special “National Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan to Combat Extremism and Terrorism for 2016-2020” and the “Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy” were approved. Tajikistan was the first Central Asian country to adopt such documents.
It was planned that the National Strategy (NS) will be implemented in three stages:
The first phase covers 2016. This is creating favorable conditions for the implementation of the Strategy, drawing the attention of state bodies, the public and international organizations to this problem, developing plans and projects for the implementation of specific points of the Action Plan for the Strategy implementation.
The second stage of the Strategy is 2017-2018, which was about the creation and implementation of mechanisms to prevent and combat extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism.
The third phase covers the years 2019-2020. At this stage, the implementation of the mechanisms for preventing and combating extremism and terrorism and their improvement depending on the monitoring results are ensured. At the end of the third stage, it is planned to generalize the results of the Strategy implementation and, if necessary, formulate proposals for the development of new strategic planning documents in this area.
The National Strategy reflects the main actions of state bodies and civil society institutions, as well as a new interpretation of the problems of extremism and terrorism, which is reflected in the following senses:
– recognition of extremism and terrorism as a complex problem. Therefore, the development and implementation of “a set of measures aimed at neutralizing the ideological, socio-economic, legal and institutional factors of their activation is needed”.[5] – the importance of increasing the level of political culture and legal literacy of the population as factors in the stable development of society, the need for their protection and compliance by state bodies;
– recognition of the factor of corruption as an obstacle to the realization of the rights and freedoms of citizens, the development and implementation of state programs to combat it with the involvement of the public;
– recognition of the factor of adverse socio-economic conditions. The recognition that the lack of the possibility of personal self-realization and a sense of hopelessness can serve as the basis for the formation of extremist sentiments and increase the level of radicalization of society. In this vein, a part of the population dissatisfied with the intermediate results of socio-economic reforms can easily succumb to extremist calls;
– recognition that a drop in the level of socio-economic well-being and marginalization of the population can create threats of radicalization. It is necessary to increase the welfare and culture of the population, create motivation for a constructive, healthy lifestyle, provide opportunities for adaptation and participation in the life of the socially vulnerable segments of the population, etc .;
– recognition of the importance of having a national idea as a barrier to the penetration and dissemination of radical ideas. The activities of radical religious organizations at the global level pose a serious challenge to such an idea, as they strive to create a single theocratic state. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and implement a national idea, combining the principles of an open civil society and the spiritual and moral traditions of the Tajik people;
– the importance of ensuring freedom of conscience and belief, the right to independently determine the attitude to religion; assist in obtaining religious education;
– the importance of providing quality education, leisure activities and solving socio-economic problems of youth;
– the importance of ensuring gender equality, increasing social activity and the role of women in society, as well as ensuring the equal rights of men and women in family relations;
– the importance of counter-propaganda activities using modern information technologies, as terrorist organizations widely use the capabilities and potential of the Internet;

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General (2007-2016)
 “The Internet is a prime example of how terrorists can behave in a truly transnational way; in response, States need to think and function in an equally transnational manner.” 
– The importance of providing labor resources with jobs in the country, since labor migrants in their countries of residence are at great risk of radicalization and involvement in extremist and terrorist organizations;
 – The importance of preventing the spread of extremist views in prisons. Since, due to their specificity, they are subject to the risks of the spread of extremism and radicalization. The sources of the spread of radical views are persons convicted of such activities, who often continue to carry out propaganda activities and recruit prisoners;
– Recognition of the vulnerability of law enforcement officers and military personnel to extremist propaganda by virtue of communicating on service with extremist elements, studying extremist literature or direct recruitment, etc.;
– Recognition of the importance of involving civil society institutions, the media, the private sector and each member of the society in the prevention of extremism and terrorism as a condition for achieving success;
– The importance of international and regional cooperation in countering extremism and terrorism.

Implementations of the document: practical achievements and shortcomings
The fact of the adoption of this document in the conditions of Tajikistan is certainly a great achievement. This can be indicated in the following points:
Firstly, representatives of competent state bodies, civil society, experts and religious leaders took part in the development of the document. To create the National Strategy, international experience was studied, a national study was conducted in all regions of the country (in which broad sections of Tajik society were represented). This positive experience shows that the involvement of various groups of society can guarantee the development of an effective document and can play a positive role in building a secular and democratic state.
Secondly, in the text of the National Strategy and in the Implementation Plan of the National Strategy, the importance of the participation of civil society, the private sector and each individual citizen in the prevention and counteraction of extremism and terrorism is noted. In the implementation plan of the National Strategy, it is said that competent state bodies should promote the emergence of public organizations involved in the prevention of extremism and terrorism. This, of course, is a step forward in the development of civil society.
Thirdly, carrying out research within the framework of the National Strategy implementation on monitoring the situation, on the part of state and public organizations, provided to the study of the causes and factors contributing to radicalization. In the 2000s and early 2010, it was difficult to conduct large-scale research. However, with the adoption of the document, today we have a number of analytical reports on the results of sociological and qualitative studies that explain the causes and consequences of radicalization from various perspectives.
Fourthly, over the past few years, a number of doctoral and master’s theses on extremism in political science, philosophy, and jurisprudence have been defended. These works analyze the relevant national experience of Tajikistan. In other words, due to the relevance of this problem, a significant number of applicants have chosen various aspects of the topics of extremism and terrorism as the theme of their dissertations and in the next 3-5 years we will witness the defense of new scientific papers.
Fifthly, as part of the implementation of the National Strategy Implementation Plan, the central and local executive bodies developed their own action plans to prevent extremism and radicalism. Large-scale preventive work was carried out in all regions of the country, as a result of which the importance of countering extremism and terrorism was brought to a large number of citizens.
Sixthly, over the period of the National Strategy implementation, the access of youth to sports and cultural institutions has noticeably improved. In all regions of the country, especially in Dushanbe, sports grounds were built for football and volleyball, etc. Today in all regions of the country there are educational centers for the study of languages, several new community centers and theaters have been built. The created infrastructure in the medium term will play a significant role in the positive development of youth.  

Read more: What Do Children Returned from Iraq Need?

Shortcomings and Lowlights of the Strategy
The following points can be mentioned as shortcomings and lowlights in the implementation of the National Strategy, which concern all sectors of Tajik society:
The text and the implementation plan of the National Strategy form broad public expectations of possible results. For objective reasons, a number of provisions of the implementation plan have not been translated into reality.
Firstly, the text and the implementation plan of the National Strategy form broad public expectations of possible results. For objective reasons, a number of provisions of the implementation plan have not been translated into reality. Primarily, this is due to the financing of individual measures and activities.
Secondly, the country has not formed a community of NGOs that work at the proper level to prevent extremism. Many NGOs working in this direction began to deal with this because of the urgency of the problem, and also due to the possibility of obtaining grants. Therefore, the sustainability of many NGO projects is difficult to assess.
Thirdly, in the coverage of the problems of extremism and terrorism, “mythical” and constructed “realities” were observed. A pool of journalists has not formed yet in the country that could professionally cover this topic. The use of hate speech and the demonization of extremists must be particularly emphasized.
According to Tajik expert Rustam Azizi, citizens involved in extremist groups can be divided into two groups: active or ideological radicals who are difficult to rehabilitate and those who can be convinced, i.e. passive radicals or concomitant victims of radicalization.[6] 
In the media, both groups were issued as a single entity. The use of inappropriate terms “justifying” the actions of extremists is also observed. Work with journalists on the coverage of issues related to extremism and terrorism will remain particularly relevant.
Fourth, the ongoing preventive work in the regions needs major changes. There is a need in new social constructs and social engineering, by considering the specifics of the regions and their needs.
Fifth, Tajik experts and analysts were not able to present the experience of Tajikistan in the prevention of extremism and terrorism to the regional and international community. Law enforcement agencies carried out extensive work on: 1) the return of persons from the territories of the “terrorist organization of the Islamic State (banned in Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries, –  Ed. note )”; 2) the return of children from Iraq; 3) the return of persons suspected of and members of extremist organizations, etc. Undoubtedly, the priority work in this direction will be the implementation of measures with the consequences of radicalization, since after 2017 there has been a decrease in the involvement of citizens in extremist and terrorist organizations.
The actual direction of work can be called rehabilitation and resocialization of returnees. In this direction, Tajikistan has had unique experience since the 1990s, when more than a million citizens (refugees) from Afghanistan and other countries were returned to the country. In the post-conflict peace-building phase, not only civilians were rehabilitated and integrated into peaceful life, but also the military formations of the former UTO (United Tajik Opposition), some of which are still serving in the country’s law enforcement agencies.
The conceptualization of this experience and its use for the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees, of course, can serve as a successful example not only for Tajikistan, but also for other states of the post-Soviet space.

It is necessary to strengthen the potential of civil society, including the media, in the process of preventing extremism. In general, it is necessary to continue to develop partnerships between government bodies and civil society institutions.
Sixth, it is necessary to strengthen the potential of civil society, including the media, in the process of preventing extremism. In general, it is necessary to continue to develop partnerships between government bodies and civil society institutions.
Seventh, the development and implementation of soft tools, i.e. approaches not of a forceful nature, but more aimed at designing intelligent products that can act as an alternative to a radical worldview in the prevention of extremism and terrorism. Studies show that extremist groups attach great importance to intellectual products and form a positive and attractive background for their ideas. Therefore, the development of intelligent products can also play a significant role in the prevention and counteraction of extremism in the medium term.  
All these shortcomings have various reasons, including a lack of finance or lack of necessary expert support. These proposals can be used in the process of preparing a new edition of the National Strategy for the coming years.


This publication was produced under IWPR project «Forging links and raising voices to combat radicalization in Central Asia».


[1] About the stages of the prevention of extremism in Tajikistan, see the author’s article: Rizoyon Sh.Sh. Tajikistan’s experience in the prevention of extremism: problems and prospects  // Collection “Countering the ideology of terrorism: concepts and targeted prevention” (Materials of the All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference). Ufa, 2019 .– pp. 15-24.
[2] National Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan on countering extremism and terrorism for 2016-2020 (approved by Decree of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan dated November 12, 2016, No. 776);
[3] See: List of organizations recognized by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tatarstan as terrorist and extremist (date of appeal March 15, 2017). –C.1-2. URL: http://nbt.tj/upload/iblock/ede/sp_ter_org.pdf
[4] Preventing youth involvement in a terrorist organization is also the responsibility of civil society / 15.11.2018. URL: sadoimardum.tj/ma-lisi-ol/peshgirii-albi-avonon-ba-tashkiloti-terrorist-vazifai-omeai-sha-rvand-niz-ast/
[5] National Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan on countering extremism and terrorism for 2016-2020 (text). –Dushanbe: 2016. –С.3.

[6] Speech at the international scientific and practical conference “Secularism, secularism, religiosity in the post-Soviet space: historical, legal, philosophical and philosophical aspects” (October 23-25, 2019), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan   

Kyrgyzstan: How to Resolve Issues of Violence Against Children of Migrant Workers?

«Labor migration is often the only way out of a difficult financial situation. However, the factor of the absence of parents leads to many psychological and social problems of the child,» – Aigerim Arzymatova, a specialist of the Office of the Ombudsman, Kyrgyz Republic, a participant of the School of Analytics CABAR.asia, notes in her article written specifically for CABAR.asia.

(more…)

Month in Review: Central Asia in October 2019

Ermek Baisalov 08.11.19

October 2019 in Central Asia was remembered by the selection of Chinese face recognition systems in the capitals of three countries, meetings of regional leaders within the CIS and the Turkic Council, toughening Internet censorship and active cooperation in the military sphere. The analytical platform CABAR.asia provides a brief overview of the most significant events of the region over the past month.

(more…)

Why Should Uzbekistan Improve its Position in the Global Innovation Index?

Rauf Salahodjaev 01.11.19

«The implementation of ambitious tasks will require the active and coordinated work of ministries and departments, since most of such indicators as the Global Innovation Index or the Global Competitiveness Index are composite indicators consisting of numerous sub-indicators», – mentions economist Rauf Salakhodzhaev in his article, written specifically for CABAR.asia.

(more…)

Kazakhstan: Fair Elections are Impossible Without Reforms of the Electoral System

Dimash Alzhanov 25.10.19

«Under favorable political circumstances, a correctly chosen electoral system, through the representation of the opposition and the emergence of genuine competition, can contribute to the gradual democratization of the regime», – political analyst Dimash Alzhanov, notes in his article written specifically for CABAR.asia.

(more…)

Police Reform in Tajikistan: What Should Be the Priority?

Muslimbek Buriev 21.10.19

Tajik authorities expect the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to strengthen the potential of the police in order to combat crime and ensure internal security. However, civil society expects these changes to also be a step forward in the fight against torture and ill-treatment. 

(more…)

Kyrgyzstan: Why Should the High 9% Threshold for Parties Be Lowered?

«Lowering the high electoral threshold can significantly reduce the number of votes that can get “lost” if the elected party did not reach the high threshold. When the electoral threshold is below four percent, the proportional system elections facilitates the election of parties for which these votes were cast», – notes a human rights activist Dinara Oshurakhunova in her article for CABAR.asia. (more…)

Does the Construction of a Nuclear Power Plant in Uzbekistan Meet the Country’s Interests?

Alisher Ilkhamov 11.10.19

The article criticizes the decision of the Government of Uzbekistan on the construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Jizzakh region and the conclusion of an agreement with “Rosatom”. The author gives arguments of the economic plan and expresses concern about the security risks for both the plant itself and the whole country. In economic terms, alternative energy sources and especially renewable ones, will give Uzbekistan a much greater and faster economic effect than a nuclear power plant. From a security point of view, a revision of the construction decision is necessary in the light of the new realities associated with the recent drone attack on oil production complexes in Saudi Arabia.

(more…)

Drones in Central Asia: Permit or Forbid?

Anuar Temirov 09.10.19

Central Asian states have laws and regulations that govern drone flights. However, each state has its own approach: from liberal to tougher regulation. (more…)

Month in Review: Central Asia in September 2019

Ermek Baisalov 08.10.19

September 2019 in Central Asia was remembered by the traditional foreign business trips of leaders, rallies, conflicts at the border of countries and preparations for the parliamentary elections. The analytical platform CABAR.asia provides a brief overview of the most significant events of the region for September.


Follow us on Facebook


KAZAKHSTAN

National Council of Public Trust

The National Council of Public Trust, created by President Kassym-Zhomart Tokaev after his election victory, began its work in September. Some see this as a big advantage, noting that the new head of state will regain the trust of the people. Some see this as a tricky step to bring back protesting voters from the streets and maintain his legitimacy after criticism from international observers at in the presidential election.

Photo: akorda.kz

The National Council of Public Trust under the President of Kazakhstan (hereafter NCPT) is an advisory and consultative body. Its main purpose is to provide suggestions and recommendations on important issues of national policy based on public discussions with community leaders, representatives of parties and civil society.

The role of the NCPT becomes ambiguous if we accept the fact that the political system is becoming more complex. Already instead of one center of political decisions, there are two – Akorda and the Library. Here, the second power vertical is approaching: Elbasy, at the last expanded meeting of the political council Nur Otan, ordered his close associates to restructure party work so that it turns into a leading and directing force that would oversee the actions of the executive branch.

Read CABAR.asia’s material on how can Tokaev make use of NCPT.

State of the Nation Address of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – 2019

On September 2, 2019, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK hereafter) Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, delivered[1] his first State of the Nation Address. Undoubtedly, it aroused great interest in society, especially among academicians and the expert community.

Photo: akorda.kz

The 2019 State of the Nation Address is undoubtedly a continuation of the policy that is defined by the First President of the RK, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Thus, the continuity of the main political course is observed. However, certain differences can be traced. This year’s address was not broadcasted live, and there are some peculiarities in the structure and content.

Tokaev’s first state of the Nation Address is not aimed at epochal transformations, but is based on concrete measures with “small step” tasks.

Read the article of CABAR.asia on the State of the Nation Address of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Anti-Chinese rallies

On September 3, about 100 residents of the Kazakh city of Zhanaozen gathered in the central[2] square and demanded to stop the implementation of Chinese projects in Kazakhstan. On the same day in Nur-Sultan, Aktobe and Shymkent, an action entitled “We are against Chinese expansion” took place.

Protesters expressed outrage at the Kazakh-Chinese agreement on the construction of 55 enterprises in Kazakhstan in the agricultural and industrial fields.

In Zhanaozen, protesters gathered outside the city hall and demanded that Tokaev pledge to put an end to Chinese projects in Kazakhstan. Others highlighted issues such as the release of political prisoners.

The governor of the Mangistau region, Serikbai Trumov, assured the protesters that Chinese enterprises would not be built in Kazakhstan without a public hearing.

China is the fourth largest investor and the third largest credit provider in Kazakhstan.

Tokaev’s trip to China

Against the backdrop of increased anti-Chinese sentiment in the country, Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev went on a visit to China. During his visit to China on September 11-12, Tokaev and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed issues of bilateral[3] cooperation.

Photo: akorda.kz

According to Akorda, following the results of the negotiations between Tokaev and Xi Jinping on September 11, 10 documents were signed in Beijing. This is a joint statement of the heads of state, protocols between the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the main customs department of China on inspection, quarantine, veterinary and sanitary requirements, as well as an intergovernmental agreement on – “cooperation on the project on provision of supercomputer to the Kazakh side by the Chinese government.”

Arrests of participants in unauthorized rallies

On September 21, 57 alleged[4] participants in “unauthorized rallies” were detained in Almaty and Nur-Sultan. Detentions also took place in Shymkent and, reportedly, in several other cities.

The “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” (DCK) movement, which the court in Kazakhstan called an “extremist organization,” and its leader Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker and critic of the Kazakh authorities who have been living in exile since 2009, called for rallies on September 21.

On September 20, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Kazakhstan warned Kazakhstanis against participating in “illegal protests.” The country’s authorities call the DCK rallies illegal, which, as a rule, end with the arrests of participants.

Tokaev took part in the session of the UN General Assembly

At the end of September, Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev visited[5] New York (USA) to attend the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. During the visit, Tokayev met with UN Secretary General Antoniu Guterres and heads of states and governments of several countries, heads of international organizations, representatives of American business, multinational companies, political and expert circles of the United States. The visit lasted until September 25.


KYRGYZSTAN

Conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border

Mid-September was overshadowed by another conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. This time it happened in the village of Maksat, of the Leilek district. As a result, it ended in a shootout and using mortars. 13 people were wounded from the Kyrgyz side[6] and Lieutenant Colonel of the Boru Special Forces of the Border Service was killed, from the Tajik side – 3 victims and 12 wounded.

Photo: president.kg

The parties traditionally accused each other of what happened, and exchanged notes of protest happened at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[7] Officially, both countries believe that the conflict began because of illegal construction on the disputed area. As a result, the prime ministers of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, who held negotiations in the Batken region, had to extinguish the confrontation. The situation was settled, but no one guarantees that the conflict will not recur in the very near future.

In July 2019, a joint meeting of the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Emomali Rahmon, took place. The press services of the heads of two states excitedly talked about how fruitfully the leaders of friendly countries spoke and how important the meeting was for resolving cross-border conflicts. In less than two months, another conflict with gunfire and casualties broke out on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

The September conflict became 12th on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border since the beginning of this year. Read the detailed CABAR.asia material about the latest conflict.

Exchange of near-border territories

On September 10, a conflict occurred between the Uzbek border guards and local residents of Kerkidan village, which is located near a water storage basin. Residents of the Kerkidan village, which is located in Osh Oblast, were outraged by the fact that the border guards of Uzbekistan erect fences near the water storage basin.[8]

Official authorities of the Osh region confirmed the exchange of land with Uzbekistan. The territory in Aravan district was transferred to Uzbekistan (in the district of Too-Moyun) – the land near the village of Kerkidan (alongside the reservoir) was exchanged for an area near the village of Gulbaar. Border demarcation will be carried out within a week.

Photo: azattyk.org

Land near the villages of Kerkidan and Gulbaar have the same area of ​​407 hectares. According to the Osh administration, the exchange has long been initiated by Kyrgyzstan.

This exchange has long been initiated by the Kyrgyz side. During the recent negotiations, an agreement was reached on the delimitation of borders.

In 2015, residents of Kerkidan protested over reports that the land at the reservoir would be given to neighbors. They demanded that the reservoir should be given for equal use between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Jeenbekov met with Putin in Orenburg

On September 20, the president of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbai Jeenbekov met with the Russian president Vladimir Putin as part of his  one-day working trip to the Orenburg region (Russia).[9]

president.kg2putin
president.kg
 Photo: president.kg

According to the president’s press service, Jeenbekov and Putin jointly watched the progress of the Center-2019 military exercises at the Donguz training ground, and also watched an exhibition of weapons and military equipment.

In a separate meeting, the heads of the two states discussed the current situation, current issues and prospects for cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

“Eurasian Week” in Bishkek

From September 25 to 27, the international exhibition forum “Eurasian Week – 2019” was held in Bishkek. It was attended by more than two thousand people, where issues of economic integration and business cooperation were discussed.

The three-day event was opened by a plenary meeting, and afterwards themed sessions began. The Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Muhammedkaly Abylgaziyev, the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan, the Ministers of the EEC, representatives of state bodies and the business community of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union spoke at the meeting.

The central theme of the forum in 2019 was to summarize the results of the first five years of the Eurasian Economic Union and its role in the global world community. The topics of strategic sessions were devoted to defining vectors of further development, analysis of implemented cases, developed and implemented mechanisms, and identification of integration growth points.


TAJIKISTAN

The second unit of the Rogun hydroelectric station was launched

On the 28th anniversary of state independence, Tajikistan launched the second[10] unit of the Rogun hydroelectric station. On September 9, President of the country Emomali Rahmon, by clicking on a symbolic button, started the operation of the second unit of the hydroelectric power station with a capacity of up to 120 MW of electricity per hour.

Photo: president.tj

The first unit of the hydroelectric power station was solemnly launched in November last year, the second, as expected, had to be commissioned in April of this year, however this did not happen due to technical reasons. Another date was announced – September 9th.

Currently, in summer time, Tajikistan supplies electricity to neighboring Uzbekistan and Afghanistan at a price of 40 dirhams (4 cents) for each kilowatt.

However, the residents of Tajikistan have their own expectations from the Rogun hydroelectric station. They hope that with the launch of the second unit, the problem with uninterrupted power supply in the country will be solved. Almost two decades, rural residents of Tajikistan, which make up 70% of the country’s population, suffer from restrictions on energy supply in winter time.

Engineers of the Rogun hydropower plant assure that from now on with the launch of the second unit, the generated electricity will be enough to ensure uninterrupted supply to the country’s inhabitants.

In total, there are six units at the Rogun HES, of which two, in accordance with the approved project, are installed temporarily and will generate electricity until 2021 and will be replaced.

Representatives of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Station mentioned that the third hydropower unit will be installed in the next two years. All six units are expected to work until 2026.

Tajik authorities had terminated agreement with the Chinese company

The Government of Tajikistan terminated the investment agreement concluded[11] three years ago with the Chinese company Henan Zhong-Ya Holding Group on the modernization and commissioning of ammonia and urea production facilities on the basis of Azot OJSC (formerly Tajik Azot).

The only producer of mineral fertilizers in the country is located in the city of Levakand (formerly Sarband) in the Khatlon region.

The corresponding decree was adopted by the government of the republic on August 30 of this year. The document states that the agreement is terminated “in connection with the failure to fulfill obligations undertaken by Henan Zhong-Ya Holding Group, China.

The agreement between the Government of Tajikistan and the Henan Zhong-Ya Holding Group company on the modernization and commissioning of ammonia and urea production enterprises on the basis of Azot OJSC was signed on September 3, 2016.

After that, a controlling stake in Azot OJSC was transferred to a Chinese company (50% + 1 share), which was supposed to invest $ 360 million in the enterprise.

The company undertook to complete the enterprise, equip it with modern production lines and begin production at the beginning of 2018. However, production work has not begun.

Preparations for parliamentary elections has begun

On September 27, Emomali Rahmon participated[12] in a meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT), and instructed to prepare well for the parliamentary elections in the country early next year.

Photo: president.tj

It is reported that the meeting covered the results of the activities of the Central Executive Committee of the PDPT, regional, city and district committees for 9 months of 2019 were summed up, as well as internal party issues were discussed, including the convention of the next party congress, and preparations for it.

As the leader of the PDPT, Emomali Rahmon, drew attention to the nomination of worthy candidates for the election campaign. He instructed to take an active part and contribute to the conduct of the elections at the proper level.

Emomali Rahmon has been the leader of the PDPT party since 1998. In the current, VII convocation of the Majlisi Oli – the parliament of Tajikistan, this party occupies 51 out of 63 seats.

The “Friendship Bridge” opened on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

On September 30, the opening ceremony of the[13] Friendship Bridge at the Ovchi-Kalyacha-Kulundu checkpoint on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border took place. The bridge was built between the Tajik Bobojongafurov district and the Kyrgyz Leilek district.

Photo: asiplus.tj

The bridge was opened by the chairman of the Sughd region Rajabboy Ahmadzoda and the governor of Batken region Akram Madumarov. The opening ceremony was also attended by border guards, law enforcement agencies, journalists and residents of the two countries. In their speeches, oblast chairpersons called on residents for good neighborliness and peaceful life.

The bridge was destroyed in October 2017 during mudflows. The new bridge, with a length of 12 meters and a width of 8 meters, was built jointly, both sides financed 50% of the costs.


TURKMENISTAN

Parliament of Turkmenistan may become bicameral

A constitutional commission is being created in Turkmenistan in connection with amendments and additions to the country’s constitution.

This structure will improve the activities of the representative and legislative body of state power.

It should be reminded, that the president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took the initiative to switch to a bicameral parliamentary system. This was stated during a speech by the head of state at a meeting of the Halk Maslakhaty (People’s Council) – the highest representative body of Turkmenistan.


UZBEKISTAN

Political parties in Uzbekistan began collecting signatures

All registered political parties in Uzbekistan have begun collecting signatures.[14] The day before the Central Election Commission issued sheets for the collection of signatures for the party representatives.

The Election Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan determines that a political party may nominate candidates for deputies provided that it has collected at least 40,000 signatures of voters supporting their participation in the elections, as well as letterhead forms issued by the Central Election Commission after the announcement of the start of the election campaign.

 

The election campaign for the election of deputies to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis started on September 20. All five parties registered in the country expressed a desire to participate in the elections. Parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan will be held on December 22.

Read material about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan on the CABAR.asia. website

The prison term for Gulnara Karimova is going to increase

Photo: zakon.kz

Another closed trial[15] is being prepared in Tashkent on the case of Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the late President of Uzbekistan. On September 16, a court session was held in the Yashnabad district court of the capital, at which the issue of changing her preventive measure (that is, transfer from KIN-21 to another place) was considered.

The trial, apparently, was connected with the recent initiation of several more criminal cases against Gulnara Karimova. On August 19, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Uzbekistan announced this on its website, adding that these investigations are opened due to the theft of public funds and conclusion of transactions contrary to the interests of the country, as well as the seizure by extortion of other people’s property in especially large amounts.

Prior to that, she had already two terms of 5 years of restriction of freedom each, in March of the current year the last of them was replaced by a full-fledged conclusion.

Read the CABAR.asia material on how should the return to Uzbekistan of Gulnara Karimova’s ill-gotten assets be carried out

Uzbekistan joins Turkic Council

Uzbekistan made a decision on membership in the Turkic Council and became its full member country.[16] Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the Law “On ratification by the Republic of Uzbekistan of the Nakhichevan agreement on the establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states”.

Photo: president.kg

It is noted that on October 15 in Baku at the seventh summit of the Turkic Council, Uzbekistan will participate for the first time as a full member of the Turkic Council, represented by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The Turkic Council, which was established on October 3, 2009 in Nakhichevan, is an international intergovernmental organization whose main activity is to strengthen friendship and good neighborliness between Turkic-speaking countries, preserving peace, security and mutual trust in the region and the world.

Currently, the Council includes Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.

Uzbekistan introduces visa-free regime for citizens of China

Uzbekistan introduces a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens[17] for up to seven days.

The introduction of a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong, is provided for by the decree of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev from September 12.

Chinese citizens will be able to enter Uzbekistan for up to seven days without visas as of January 1, 2020. However, they can enter by visa-free travel exclusively through the international airports of Uzbekistan.

For reference, now citizens of 65 countries can enter Uzbekistan without visas. This is the second indicator in the level of liberalization to the visa regime in the world after Georgia. In addition, citizens of 77 countries have the opportunity to enter Uzbekistan by electronic visa.

Forced cotton picking continues

In some regions of Uzbekistan, cotton picking started on September 14. Despite the promises of Uzbek officials that this year they will not be force people to pick up crops, employees of some budgetary organizations were ordered to go for cotton picking.[18]

Despite the fact that Uzbekistan has adopted a number of laws aimed at eradicating forced labor, citizens continue to be forcibly involved in the harvest of cotton.

It should be reminded that at a video conference on August 12, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev officially banned sending school students, university students and employees of budgetary organizations to pick cotton. This happened after the US Department of Labor excluded Uzbekistan from the list of countries where child or forced labor is used in the production of goods.


This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.


[1] Head of State Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev delivered a Message to the people of Kazakhstan. Akorda.kz. http://www.akorda.kz/ru/events/astana_kazakhstan/astana_other_events/glava-gosudarstva-kasym-zhomart-tokaev-vystupil-s-poslaniem-narodu-kazahstana

[2] More than 100 people rallied in Zhanaozen. Lada.kz. https://www.lada.kz/aktau_news/society/73145-bolee-100-chelovek-vyshli-na-akciyu-protesta-v-zhanaozene.html

[3] President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev held talks with President of China Xi Jinping. Akorda.kz http://www.akorda.kz/en/events/international_community/foreign_visits/prezident-kazahstana-kasym-zhomart-tokaev-provel-peregovory-s-predsedatelem-knr-si-czinpinom

[4] Police of Nur-Sultan: on September 21, fifty people were detained in the capital. Azattyq.org. https://rus.azattyq.org/a/30178891.html

[5] Tokaev went to New York to attend the UN General Assembly. Azattyq.org. https://rus.azattyq.org/a/30178741.html

[6] 13 people were injured. 24.kg. https://24.kg/proisshestvija/129536_konflikt_nagranitse_postradali_13kyirgyizstantsev/

[7] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan presented a note of protest after Tajikistan. 24.kg. https://24.kg/obschestvo/129595_konflikt_nagranitse_mid_kyirgyizizstan_vruchil_poslu_tadjikistana_notu_protesta/

[8] Land exchange between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Kloop.kg. https://kloop.kg/blog/2019/09/12/obmen-zemli-mezhdu-kyrgyzstanom-i-uzbekistanom-teper-vodohranilishhe-kerkidan-polnostyu-nahoditsya-na-uzbekskoj-territorii/  

[9] President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed pressing issues of bilateral cooperation. President.kg. http://www.president.kg/en/sobytiya/15044_prezident_sooronbay_gheenbekov_i_prezident_rossii_vladimir_putin_obsudili_aktualnie_voprosi_dvustoronnego_sotrudnichestva

[10] The second unit of the Rogun hydroelectric station was launched. Energolit will sink into oblivion? Ozodi.org https://rus.ozodi.org/a/30156078.html

[11] The Tajik Azot restoration agreement with the Chinese is terminated. They did not fulfill the obligation. Asiaplus.tj. https://asiaplustj.info/ru/news/tajikistan/economic/20190911/soglashenie-o-vosstanovlenii-tadzhik-azota-s-kitaitsami-rastorgnuto-oni-ne-vipolnili-obyazatelstva

[12] Emomali Rahmon called on party members to nominate worthy candidates for parliamentary elections. Asiaplus.tj. https://asiaplustj.info/ru/news/tajikistan/power/20190927/emomali-rahmon-prizval-odnopartiitsev-vidvinut-dostoinih-kandidatov-k-parlamentskim-viboram

[13] On the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan opened the “Friendship Bridge. Asiaplus.tj. https://asiaplustj.info/ru/news/tajikistan/politics/20190930/na-granitse-tadzhikistana-i-kirgizstana-otkrili-most-druzhbi

[14] The parties of Uzbekistan began collecting signatures. Five political forces will take part in the parliamentary elections. Podrobno.uz. https://podrobno.uz/cat/obchestvo/partii-uzbekistana-nachali-sbor-podpisey-/

[15]New criminal cases have been launched against Gulnara Karimova. Asiaterra.info. http://www.asiaterra.info/news/protiv-gulnary-karimovoj-vozbuzhdeny-novye-ugolovnye-dela  

[16] Uzbekistan joined the Turkic Council. Uznews.uz https://www.uznews.uz/ru/article/16876

[17] Uzbekistan introduces a visa-free regime for citizens of China. Podrobno.uz. https://podrobno.uz/cat/uzbekistan-i-kitay-klyuchi-ot-budushchego/uzbekistan-vvodit-bezvizovyy-rezhim-dlya-grazhdan-kitaya/

[18] A cotton campaign was launched in Uzbekistan. State employees again drove to the fields. CA-News.org. https://ca-news.org/news:1566700?f=cp