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In Focus: ECED Central Asia Digest: April 02-08 2018

By Alexander Vorobiov (@AlexandVorobiov) - translated by Toni Michel (@villageescape)


A number of encouraging political and economic developments dominated news from Central Asia last week. The main event was a foreign ministers’ summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Minsk where all Central Asian states were represented. In Kazakhstan, economic news mostly carried the day with President Nazarbayev meeting Chevron board chairman and CEO John Watson and commissioning a plan to have Chevron participate in the construction of the country’s fourth oil refinery. Apart from that, Nazarbayev also appointed a new secretary of the National Security Council. In Uzbekistan, news broke this week about plans to lower the value added tax (VAT) from 20 to 12 percent. Tashkent also set up an agency to support legal reforms and coordinate law enforcement activities. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, the head of the State Committee for National Security, Abdil Segizbayev, and his deputy were removed from their posts, while Russia and Tajikistan finally managed to set a long-brewing conflict over civilian air traffic aside. Dushanbe also began exporting electricity to Uzbekistan this past week while Russia’s President Vladimir Putin asked the State Duma to ratify an accord on a strategic partnership with Turkmenistan.




Central Asian Foreign Ministers in Minsk for CIS Summit

Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko hosted the foreign ministers of CIS countries in Minsk this past week to discuss deeper cooperation in law enforcement, defense and the cultural sphere. All Central Asian states sent their foreign minister except for Turkmenistan. Ashgabat was represented at the meeting through the new Deputy Foreign Minister Serdar Berdymukhammedov. (Press Service of the Russian Foreign Ministry, April 06)




Lukoil to Purchase Stakes in Two Parcels of Kazakh Caspian Shelf

Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry announced last week that Lukoil is interested in acquiring a stake in the I-P-2 and Zhenis parcels in the south of the country’s Caspian Shelf – both of which were abandoned by Total in 2012. The Russian company’s interest in pursuing such a project now is connected to legislative changes in Kazakhstan’s tax code earlier this year that make such endeavors more attractive. Lukoil is already operating a parcel together with Kazmunaigaz not far from the two new areas in question. (Kommersant, April 05)

Fourth Kazakh Oil Refinery Planned with Chevron Financing

The Energy Ministry in Astana was furthermore beginning negotiations with Tengizchevroil and Chevron on financing the construction of Kazakhstan’s fourth oil refinery, following a corresponding order from President Nazarbayev from April 04 after the head of state had met Chevron’s board chairman and CEO John Watson. The company’s leadership was in Kazakhstan to participate in an event marking the 25th jubilee of cooperation between Chevron and its local partner, Tengizchevroil. (Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan, April 04)


Nazarbayev Appoints New Security Council Secretary

Kazakhstan’s President removed Vladimir Zhuakanov from the post of Security Council secretary on April 04 and named Nurlan Ermekbayev as his successor who so far served as Minister for Religious and Civil Society Issues and had already worked as Security Council secretary two years ago. Earlier, Ermekbayev worked in the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan. (Press Service of the President of Kazakhstan, April 04)


Aliya Rakisheva to Head Presidential Administration

According to a decree signed by Kazakh President Nazarbayev, Aliya Rakisheva was appointed Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration this past week. Previously, Rakisheva worked in different capacities in the Justice Ministry where she led the department for legal questions and headed the ministry’s administrative division as well as the Central Electoral Commission. From 2013 until today, Rakisheva worked as head of the Presidential Administration’s Legal Service. (, April 04)


Mirziyoyev Sets Up Agency to Coordinate Legal Reform

Upon an order signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan’s Presidential Administration will be complemented by a department supporting and coordinating reforms and law enforcement to monitor rule of law, propose changes to other state organs as well as review or annul administrative decisions and remove various bureaucratic procedures that breed corruption. (Fergana News, April 06)

Uzbekistan Plans on Lowering VAT to 12 Percent

A government concept on fundamental reforms in the tax sector provides for lowering the value-added-tax from 20 percent to 12 percent, pooling or abolishing a number of fees and reforming tax collection and administration procedures. The paper also calls for extending the duty to pay VAT to all tax payers, including individual companies with turnover of over 1 billion som ($120,000). (Novosti Uzbekistana, April 04)

Uzbek Government Introduces Price Controls on Basic Goods

According to a list of basic social goods and services that was affirmed by the government in Tashkent last week, the state will oversee the prices for flour produced by the company Uzdonmachsulot, bread, alcohol, mineral fertilizers, cotton oil, fuel, gas, supplies for cotton and corn farms, coal, and a number of other products. (Fergana News, April 04)



Kyrgyz Citizen Killed by Uzbek Border Guards

An incident at the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan led to the death of a 34-year-old Kyrgyz citizen in the hospital after Uzbek border guards opened fire on him on April 07. The man was hit on the Kyrgyz side of the border. After a discussion of the incident, the prime ministers of the two countries agreed to have the heads of their respective border services meet on April 09. (CA-News, April 08)

Jeenbekov Removes Security Council Secretary

The head of Kyrgyzstan’s National Security Committee GKNB, Abdil Segizbayev, and his deputy, the head of the Analytical Service Bolot Suyumbayev were dismissed from their posts last week and replaced by Idris Kadyrkulov who previously headed the Anti-Narcotics Agency in Osh Region. Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov also removed Damir Musakeyev from his post as head of Kyrgyzstan’s Special Service and State Security. (Press Service of the President of Kyrgyzstan, April 07)



Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Askar Shadiyev Steps Down 

Askar Shadiyev, Kyrgyzstan’s First Deputy Prime Minister, said on April 06 that he would step down in order not to distract the government due to an ongoing criminal investigation into embezzlement charges against Arsen Zakirov, whose work Shadiyev oversaw at the time in question. Shadiyev is still a parliamentary deputy and used to head the body’s Foreign Affairs Committee until his appointment as a government minister. (Interfax, April 06)



Russia and Tajikistan Lift Mutual Aviation Restrictions

Following negotiations between the aviation authorities of Russia and Tajikistan in Moscow, all restrictions on flights between the two countries were lifted, Russia’s Transport Ministry said last week. “Both sides affirmed that the number of flights by designated carriers will exceed the winter schedule of 2017-18 while four new directions between Perm-Dushanbe, Zhukovsky-Kulyab, Chelyabinsk-Khujand and Krasnodar-Khujand will be added in summer.” The Ministry said, however, that any previously announced restrictions would not be lifted. (TASS, April 04) 

Tajikistan Begins Electricity Exports to Uzbekistan

One day after the inauguration of an electricity pipeline from Regar in Tajikistan to Gulcha in Uzbekistan, power started flowing north on April 02. The delivery volume will be at least 1,5 billion kilowatt hours per year after the two sides agreed on the deal earlier this year. In summer, Uzbekistan will buy Tajik energy for 2 US cents per kilowatt – in winter, for 2,5 cents. (CA-News, April 02)




Putin Submits Strategic Partnership with Ashgabat to State Duma for Ratification

Subsequent to the conclusion of a 10-year strategic partnership in October 2017 during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkmenistan, the Kremlin now submitted a draft law ratifying the accord to the State Duma. The accord obligates Russia and Turkmenistan not to enter into treaties with states that pose a threat to the sovereignty, safety and territorial integrity of the partner state, to defend the rights of citizens from both countries and to cooperate in the fight against the terrorism. (Chronika Turkmenistana, April 07)



Serdar Berdymukhammedov Heads Turkmen Delegation to CIS Foreign Minister Summit in Minsk

Turkmenistan’s delegation to the summit of CIS foreign ministers in Minsk was headed by the country’s new Deputy Foreign Minister, Serdar Berdymukhammedov, who was appointed on March 30. A press release of the Foreign Ministry in Ashgabat said that the meeting discussed diplomatic, economic and cultural cooperation between the CIS states. (Press Service of the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan, April 06)


Turkmen Authorities to Verify Alleged Contract Violations by Belarussian Firms at Garlykski Mine

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov ordered an investigation into the Garlykski Mine Complex after a report to cabinet revealed that Belarussian contractors tasked with substantial works at the site had not completely fulfilled their treaty obligations. The $1,1-billion-project began extracting minerals on March 31, 2017 with a ceremony attended by both Presidents Lukashenko and Berdimukhammedov. (Chronika Turkmenistana, April 06)