Article Archive for Year 2011
“The water that serveth all that country is drawn by ditches out of the River Oxus, into the great destruction of the said river, for which it cause it falleth not into the Caspian Sea as it hath done in times past, and in short time all that land is like to be destroyed, and to become a wilderness for want of water, when the river of Oxus shall fail.”
Sometimes I think that people of Uzbekistan with a 28 million population know less about one of the greatest catastrophe in their own country than people worldwide. One of the reasons of it is the governmental propaganda of the successes in the policies towards its citizens. Another one is that the tragedy is being considered as not only the one of Uzbekistan but also of Kazakhstan, neighboring country rich of oil, and, considered as a main responsible side.
I found out about the Aral Sea ecological disaster when I became a freshman in my undergraduate studies. We had an introduction of our class and my then-future fellows introduced themselves. As myself, majority of students were from the capital city of Tashkent. The distribution among provinces represented the wealth and accessibility of the education in the most prestigious university of Uzbekistan: Tashkent, ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand were in top three in representation. All of them were telling their mostly enthusiastic live stories and what inspired them to study at the University. Except for one 17 year old guy who looked much older for us: skin on his face was flabby; he had a permanent cough and was breathing very hard; he was so thin and tall that for the rest of our five year education he had been called a “Skeleton”; the manner of speaking was slow but the way of thinking was critical and, as I understood later, more realistic than ours. Read the full story »
The story of the life of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is for sale in Kazakhstan.
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, is Amazon’s top grossing book of the year – in both “print and Kindle editions combined” said The News. The book went on sale on October 24th, less than 3 weeks after Jobs’ death, and Business Press Network said that “In less than 2 months on the market, the book had become the online retailer’s best selling title of 2011.”
About this biography being sold in Kazakhstan, on December 15th, Central Asian News said:
“About 40 copies of the publication were sold out for the first few hours of sales. The applications for purchasing of the book come every 20 minutes. Bestseller is available as in the online store as in the non-virtual boutique in Astana, which was opened in September 2011.”
We are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Best Blogger Award: Gulasal Kamolova (gulasal.wordpress.com) and Tashpulat Rahmatulaev (rtoshpulat.blogspot.com). Both are bloggers working in Uzbekistan. They are almost certainly known to many of our readers, Gulasal particularly for her videos of last year’s revolution in Kyrgyzstan and Tashpulat from his many articles with journalistic publications.
We at NewEurasia hear all sorts of rumors about the monitoring powers of the countries we observe and work in, but often we don’t really have a concrete sense about what they can and cannot really do. Well, earlier this month WikiLeaks released the Spy Files, a leak practically tailor-made for us. In my opinion, it could be their most substantive leak so far (I say that recognizing all the pros and cons that goes with such a statement), although with nearly none of the fanfare/hype that accompanied its earlier mega-leaks.
The Spy Files so far are constituted of 287 documents collected from 160 international intelligence contractors (no word on exactly how) over the last few years. The database is mostly sales brochures and PowerPoint presentations but apparently also includes internal documents of such companies like Gamma corporation in the United Kingdom, Ipoque of Germany, Amesys and Vupen in France, VASTech in South Africa, ZTE Corp in China, Phoenexia in the Czech Republic, SS8 and Blue Coat in the USA, our ever-reliable friends at Siemens, so on and so on. This industry is almost completely unregulated — and it’s quite a hydra.
Unfortunately, the Spy Files haven’t yet revealed anything about the Central Asian republics. However, we now know a little bit about our friends to the North. Russia has/had capabilities in sms monitoring, speech analysis, and phone monitoring, particularly mobile forensic analysis for smartphones and audio forensics (I should note that a lot of the information in question is a few years old, so what we do know is already out of date, but it suffices to give an unhappy idea). The tech comes to them courtesy of the companies Oxygen Software and Speech Technology Center, Ltd. No word yet on some of the really scare stuff that has been known to find its way into the occasional Russian nationalist hacker.
I have hard time understanding Speaker Akhmatbek Keldibekov’s desperate attempts to keep his position. As someone involved in politics for quite some time now, he must realize that election of a new president inevitable entails reshuffling of politicians. Moreover, the president-elect Almazbek Atambayev has views that sometimes contradict those of Keldibekov’s. When the 2010 elections got several known politicians back (!) into the parliament, they had to negotiate and make concessions and compromises: Atambayev (SDPK) got premiership, Omurbek Babanov (Respublika) was given vice-premiership and Keldibekov (Ata-Jurt) received the position of the Speaker. The latter now has to go, simple as is. Read the full story »
On December 6, 2011, the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Uzbekistan, providing the framework for World Bank Group assistance to Uzbekistan between 2012 and 2015, World Bank press-service reports.
The new Strategy proposes a program linked to Uzbekistan’s development vision of reaching high middle-income status by mid-century. It was developed based on a broad dialogue with the Government of Uzbekistan and consultations with all development partners, including civil society organizations, academia, business communities, professional associations, and multilateral and bilateral donors.
Through implementation of the CPS, the World Bank intends to help enhance the key elements of the Government’s medium-term growth and development strategy: promoting efficiency, enhancing competitiveness, accelerating diversification, and ensuring social inclusion. A new financing envelope of US$1.3 billion – consisting of concessional International Development Association (IDA) credits and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loans – reflects the country’s development needs, its income level, economic prospects, economic management, poverty level, and performance of Bank-sponsored programs. Read the full story »
Have you gotten a “Friend Request” from O’zbekiston Respublikasi Bosh vaziri, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Facebook yet? His personal page has 1,818 Friends, explains him to be a 100% Conservative believer in Islam, interested in Women and Married, inspired by various Westerners politicians and so on. There are even some professional photos, both uploaded and tagged, on his profile. But is this all real?
To debate this – weather or not Mirziyoyev’s Facebook page is actually authentic – is pretty silly and ridiculous, considering Uzbekistan is a country whose press freedom and online activity regulations especially in terms of political interactions, are far from socially free and enjoyable… but lets enjoy examining the suspicious question of “to be (a real Facebook page) or not to be” anyway.
Read the full story »
Last week I gave a lecture at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven on whether or not an “Arab Spring”-style revolution could happen in Eurasia and more specifically in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. My answer was: probably not in the immediate term (say, before five to seven years from now) and not as part of a “chain reaction” from the current Arab Spring. In the long term, some of the regimes will bite the dust, however. The reason for the both likelihoods is actually the same: a combination of youth bulge, social mobility and delayed/stunted social change, modern ICT penetration, and rigidifying first-family regimes. These factors are creating the conditions that keep a revolt at bay for now but could also eventually make an explosion or a coup of some sort inevitable.
A key element of my presentation concerned comparing/contrasting the Arab and Eurasian states. Ultimately, if one lesson from the Arab Spring (and Kyrgyzstan) applies to Eurasia, then it is this: that things at some point can go unexpectedly fast, and that internal dynamics, both within the regimes and within the wider society, are much more important than whatever geopolitical designs or “Great Game powers’ desire for stability” can actually control.
Uzbek Parliament’s decision to pass amendment to article 90 of the Constitution, which reduces the length of Presidential term from current seven to five years, is, most probably, the sexiest topic to discuss within different levels of communities in Uzbekistan.
The honorable head of state thought that people’s attention would be drawn to the news on amnesty, not to his political decision to withdraw from the Oksaroy (the Uzbek White House). In fact, amnesty was discussed so many times that it was not an “in-trend” topic of people’s discussions.
On the other hand, political activity in Uzbekistan is so low that people do not really talk much about issues around them, being afraid for their own and relatives’ safety.
When during the 2002 referendum to prolong Presidential term from former four years to nowadays seven years, official propaganda and President himself were calling it a democratic reform to make sure the main reformer would be in power and able to realize all the ‘creative plans and aspirations of the people of Uzbekistan.’
“The practical application in our life of the matters raised in the referendum will be a worthy step in the road of further liberalization of political life. They are an important factor in improving the state administration and political system.”
President Islam Karimov’s interview to local and foreign media, January, 2002
Now, when Presidential initiative to reduce the term of office has passed the puppet Parliament, official mass media calls it a phenomenon that “reflects an objective reality, logics and consistency of the realized reforms; Read the full story »
Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov’s claimed he is going to ask the court to reconsider the acquittal of his son, on Monday, 28 November 2011. Mayor Omurkulov issued a statement indicating his son, who killed three young individuals driving under alcoholic influence, is a 30-year-old father of four but that “doesn’t free him from responsibility.” While this is a nice statement, one is left with the impression that this was nothing more than just a wise political move ahead of the reshuffling in higher echelons after Almazbek Atambayev is sworn in. Also because his son is already acquitted by court and a request forwarded by an individual not involved in the trial (even if he is the defendant’s father and is a capital city mayor) is not going to be entertained. Read the full story »