Cash Not Goods

Ukraine again reached an agreement with Turkmenistan about gas deliveries over the weekend. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yury Yekhanurov spoke on his optimism on the future of energy dialogue in a televised announcement, according to a ForUm report: “Yesterday, the Turkmen Foreign Minister and the Ukrainian Ambassador in Turkmenistan discussed the gas problem, the ambassador told me by phone. Judging by the results of the negotiations, Turkmen views on the conflict are absolutely constructive.” The main issue under discussion appeared to relate to the outstanding debt of $80 million owed by Kiev. As a result of the latest wave of negotiations…

“Is this the country we wanted to build 20 years ago?”

The fallout from the Sarsenbaev murder continues to become ever more dramatic. Today saw the first anti-government demonstration in years in Almaty, where about 1,000 protesters defied a police ban and marched on to the Respublika Square in order to commemorate the killed opposition leader. As James reported a couple of days ago, the international coverage of the Sarsenbaev affair has been quite considerable, as is the reporting about today’s protests. Fortunately, nothing serious happened except for a couple of minor scuffles, although the authorities weren’t really trying to de-escalate the situation: Local authorities appeared to inflame the crowd by…

The Railway by Hamid Ismailov

In the steppe near Tashkent they came upon a never-ending ladder with wooden rungs and iron rails and that stretched across the earth from horizon to horizon. (…) Whistling and thundering, a snake-like wonder hurtled past them, packed both on the inside and on top with infidels shouting and waving their hands. ‘The End of the World!’ thought both Mahmud-Hodja the Sunni and Djebral the Shiite. Set in Uzbekistan between 1900 and 1980, The Railway introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas on the ancient Silk Route. Their colourful lives offer a unique and comic picture…

HIV/AIDS in Eurasia: Donor Politics & Priorities

Neweurasia has launched a new series of topic-specific posts across all of the country blogs in an effort to provide readers a comprehensive overview of current policy issues in Eurasia. We have devoted this first discussion to HIV/AIDS in the region. Thanks to all of our bloggers, you can find a country-specific overview in each of the country pages: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. UPDATE 24/04/06: Luke has posted a relevant post on the Mongolia blog. Here on the homebase, we want to step back a bit and examine the issue from a regional perspective and…

Celebrations With a Bang

In view of the revised prioritisation of government expenditure the news that the Turkmen government has chosen to devote so much money to festivities will not be welcomed by everybody. The following report in full comes from turkmenistan.ru: As the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reports, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov signed a resolution authorising the Central Bank of Turkmenistan to conclude a $1,868 million contract with France’s Bouygues Batiment firm for staging firework displays during the year. According to the press service of the Turkmen leader, large-scale festive fireworks will be arranged to celebrate Day of Rukhnama on 12 September 2006,…

Settling Debts

Predictably, Naftogaz Ukrainy CEO Aleksei Ivchenko has reacted angrily to Turkmen claims that Kiev owes money to Ashgabat for gas deliveries. In a press conference on Monday, Ivchenko told reporters sought to present Ukraine’s position over the controversy: “Our outstanding debts are zero. … There are no grounds for insulting Ukraine.” Ivchenko specified that Kiev did owe Turkmenistan goods worth $75 million for previous gas deliveries. He also claimed that the delivery of these materials had not been carried out as the Turkmen government had failed to specify which goods they wished to receive. Ivchenko also accused Ashgabat of failing…

Foul Mood

The recently established Turkmen dissident web site, Turkmenskaya Iskra (Turkmen Spark), recently reported the rare occurrence of anti-government protests in some areas of the country. In Turkmenbashi Square in Mary a statue of President Saparmurat brandishing a copy of the Rukhnama was damaged on February 17. Though the identity of the culprit is not yet known, the act was succeeded by widespread arrests and interrogations across the city. Meanwhile, national artist Amansary Khadjiev was summoned to Mary to repair the monument, which had the hand bearing the Rukhnama snapped off. On the same day, in a town centre in the…

Low-level heads roll, and the intrigue continues

Things are heating up in Kazakhstan over the murder of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev. The Government of Kazakhstan has realized that they can not let this one slide; the furor, both internally and internationally is just too great. The story has made all major international papers, including the economist, and most mention that it is not the first of its kind. Kazakhstan is quickly becoming even more strongly associated than it already is with despotism, political intrigue, and murder. Today six officers from Kazakhstan’s security service have been arrested in connection with the murder, and have already confessed to murder.…

Aggressive Democracy

There are practically no honest despots anymore. It is testament to just how thoroughly democracy has won the war of ideas that even the most stalwart of absolute rulers still feel inclined to pay lip service to democracy. Even Turkmenistan’s Niyazov has referenced presidential elections in the future. Tajikistan is not the bottom of the barrel in terms of authoritarianism (though it is not winning any prizes either), but President Rakhmanov is not wasting any time in ensuring that that formality for the legitimacy of a modern country – a presidential election – goes exactly how he wants it to.…

Fighting Back

Ukraine has reacted aggressively to Turkmenistan latest threat to hike gas prices yet again. Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk suggested that Turkmenistan’s move was most likely an attempt to extricate itself from deals that it now realises it cannot fulfil. In remarks to journalists reported by Interfax he said: “There is reason to believe that the Turkmen side is starting to move away from reached agreements and so in such a case, the best defence is offence. Turkmenistan has in effect signed contracts with Russian and Ukrainian companies for two times more volume than it is able to export.” On its…

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