Expert center for eurasian development
Rus / Eng

In Focus: ECED Central Asia Digest: February 26 to March 04 2018

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


Last week turned again turned out to be busy in Central Asia’s national and international political and economic processes. Gazprom and Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry discussed different ways of building a gas pipeline from Russia to central Kazakhstan. In Astana, a high ranking official, Deputy Energy Minister Gani Sadibekov, was arrested on corruption allegations. Over in Uzbekistan, the date of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Tajikistan was published. The trip is gearing up to be a decisive event in Central Asia’s regional dynamics. Tashkent and Dushanbe also agreed on electricity deliveries while Uzbekistan is looking into whether to resume gas deliveries to Afghanistan. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, the head of the Presidential Administration tried to resign twice but was rebuffed by President Jeenbekov on both occasions. More news emerged this week that Iran’s President will visit Turkmenistan on an official visit – an unusual event, given a serious gas dispute raging between Ashgabat and Teheran.




Border Security Experts of SCO States Meet in Tashkent

Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) sent experts on border security to Tashkent this week to participate in a conference of the Executive Committee in the local SCO Anti-Terrorism Bureau. Kyrgyzstan’s representative chaired the proceedings. The head of the SCO’s anti-terrorism structures, Evgeniy Sysoyev noted China’s contribution to enhancing cross-border cooperation and regional security in reference to the joint anti-terrorism exercises and the 5th conference of the border services in China last year. The next meeting of the SCO’s national experts is scheduled to be held in Kyrgyzstan in July. (CA-News, March 03)




Deputy Energy Minister Arrested on Suspicion of Corruption

Officers of Kazakhstan’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau have arrested Gani Sadibekov, the country’s Deputy Energy Minister. He is suspected of embezzling budget funds that were allocated to cleaning up a lake at a spa complex in Northern Kazakhstan, spokesman Nurlan Jachin said. Sadibekov is alleged to have sent out fake Ministry orders to complete corresponding measures for 3,6 bn Tenge ($11 mln). 1 billion tenge of these funds have supposedly been cashed and stolen. (, March 02)

Miller and Bozumbayev Discuss Gas Pipeline From Russia to Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev was in Saint Petersburg last week to discuss a gas pipeline project from Russia with Gazprom with CEO Aleksei Miller. Working groups will work out different transit routes to supply Astana and central Kazakhstan. “The successful realization of such a major gas pipeline will promote mutual cooperation in the gas sector,” a press release said. (Press Service of the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, February 28)

Kazakhstan Announces Construction of 15 Investment Projects in 2018

The Ministry for Investment and Development in Astana has announced that this year will see the launch of construction works at 15 investment projects valued at a total of $1,6bn. Among them is a meat processing plant owned by Inalca Cremonini from Italy, a fodder producing factory by the UAE’s Phoenix Corporation, a plant that of Belgium’s Carmeuse Group to produce high-quality lime and a ceramic production plant run by Turkey’s Yildizlar and valued at $128mln. Apart from that, 23 other projects of $3bn in value are planned. All in all, 145 investment projects with an overall value of $47,8bn are on the books of the Ministry. (CA-News, February 28)

Kazakh Deputy Proposes Wider Usage of State Language

Berik Dyusembinov, a deputy in Kazakhstan’s Parliament addressed the government this past week with an initiative to use the Kazakh language more widely in official life. „Today, only Presidential candidates have to pass a Kazakh language exam. We believe that it is necessary to consider applying this standard in different spheres of society, to broaden the use of the state language and to link knowledge of Kazakh to specific benefits,” the deputy said in a plenary session. Dyusembinov called on the government to prepare corresponding legislation and pledged the support of his party, “Ak Zhol” for such a measure. (Informburo, February 28)





Former Deputy Head of SNB’s Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Unit Arrested

Uzbekistan’s Military Prosecutor had the SNB’s former Deputy Head of the unit charged with the fight against corruption and organized crime, Toimuroz Alimov, arrested on February 26 on charges of premeditated murder, abuse of power and malicious prosecution. A source said that Alimov had been implicated because he had carried out a special task given to him by former Deputy Head of the SNB, Shuchrat Gulyamov who was sentenced to life in prison last year. (Ozodlik, March 01)

Mirziyoyev to Visit Tashkent on March 09-10

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will come to Tajikistan on March 09-10 to discuss pertinent issues in the mutual relationship and to sign a number of readily-negotiated documents. He will also become an honorary doctor at Tashkent’s National University. (TajikTA, February 26)

Uzbekistan Looking into Resuming Oil and Gast Deliveries to Afghanistan

The issue of Tashkent’s previous oil and gas deliveries to Afghanistan was raised during negotiations of Kabul’s special representative for relations with the CIS countries, Shakir Kargar with Uzbekistan’s Trade Minister Elyor Ganiev. “The two sides also discussed potential cooperation in finding and developing potential coal fields in northern Afghanistan,” a spokesperson said. The construction of the railroad from Mazar-i-Sharif to Herat and the electricity delivery line from Surchan to Pul-e Khomri was high on the agenda as well. (RIA Novosti, February 26)

Mirziyoyev and Erdogan Speak by Phone

The Presidents of Turkey and Uzbekistan talked on February 26 by phone to discuss the upcoming inter-governmental session of the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation that is to prepare the forthcoming visit of Erdogan to Uzbekistan and the realization of previously agreed projects. Mirziyoyev and Erdogan also looked at the perspectives to broaden Uzbek-Turkish cooperation and exchanged views on current regional and international issues. (Uznews, February 26)


Kyrgyzstan Introduces Obligatory Vetting for Parliamentary Candidates with Double Citizenship

The Central Electoral Commission in Bishkek has altered the rules governing the registration of parliamentary candidates so that a new application form must be completed while the Commission will be allowed to process private information, including possible data on dual citizenship. The authorities’ interest on this particular issue arose after parliamentary deputy Damirbek Asylbek was arrested in Kazakhstan and it turned out only later that he was in fact holding a Kazakh passport. (Akipress, March 03)

Jeenbekov Refuses to Accept Top Staffer’s Resignation – Twice

Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov has twice refused to accept the resignation of Farid Niyazov, the head of his Presidential Administration, press secretary Tolgonai Stamaliev said last week. “Jeenbekov met Niyazov on Saturday, February 24 where the Head of the Presidential Administration asked to be relieved of his duties, but the President did not accept the resignation. The next Monday, Niyazov again asked to retire from his post but the President did not sign the corresponding document.” The press secretary added that Jeenbekov had proposed Niyazov to take a weeklong vacation instead. (Sputnik Kyrgyzstan, February 28)



Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Negotiate Border Issues

A number of working groups of the governments in Tashkent and Dushanbe discussed delimitation and demarcation issues during a number of meetings in Tashkent from February 24 to March 01. In the end, the committees produced a draft treaty between the two countries that is to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Tajikistan. (Press Service of the Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan, March 02)

Asian Development Bank Recommends Tajikistan to Dodge Eurobonds

Pradil Srivastava, the Asian Development Bank’s Permanent Representative in Tajikistan, has advised the government last week that it will not be easy to pay back money raised through Eurobonds at international financial markets, noting that an expensive credit with 7,1 percent interest had been proposed to Dushanbe. “This means that interest payments alone will add up to $35mln each year,” Srivastava said. In September 2017, Tajikistan’s National Bank was able to successfully place a government Eurobond on the markets to raise funds for the construction of the Rogun Dam Project. (CA-News, March 01)

Dushanbe and Tashkent Agree on Electricity Deliveries to Uzbekistan

This past week, the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan came to an agreement on electricity deliveries. Dushanbe will provide electric energy to Tashkent for 2 cents (US Dollar) per kilowatt hour during the summer months and for 2,5 cents in winter. “Tajikistan will begin the deliveries in late March or in early April of this year. The total volume of electricity deliveries under the agreement will not less than 1,5 billion kilowatt hours per year,” a press release read. (TajikTA, February 28)




Iranian President Expected in Ashgabat for Official Visit

Preparations are running high in Turkmenistan’s capital ahead of the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Lower level talks were being held between an Iranian delegation headed by Mohammad Shariatmadari, Teheran’s Minister for Industry, Mining and Trade and officials of Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry. Both sides reportedly discussed the possibility of a broader economic relationship and cooperation in the energy sector. Shariatmadari also met Turkmen President Berdimuhamedov on March 01. (Interfax, March 04)

Afghan Authorities Sound Alarm Over Situation at Border With Turkmenistan

The press secretary of AbdulRashidDostum, Afghanistan’s Vice President, has raised the security situation at the country’s border with Afghanistan together with parliamentary deputy Beshir Achmet Tayanch last week. “We are worried because there are a number of criminal groups operating in the border region. These elements are supposedly also engaged in arms trafficking,“ Tayanch said, adding that he would like to draw the attention of Turkmenistan’s government to the current calamities. (Azatlyk, March 03)

Russia and Turkmenistan Discuss Potential Cooperation in Agriculture

Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashik Meredov met Russia’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Evgeniy Astrachantsev in Ashgabat this past week to discuss potential cooperation in both the political and economic sphere. Both ministers noted the importance of the regular meetings between the presidents of both countries and the positive dynamic in the mutual relationship. Meredov and Astrachantsev furthermore said they would work towards further strengthening ties to further common interests. (Press Service of the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan, March 02)