Scarcely two years after protesters redefined the political landscape in Kyrgyzstan, the country’s giant northern neighbour – Kazakhstan – has witnessed a series of uprisings that started in the Western city of Zhanaozen and soon spread to other Southern cities and, most importantly, the former capital of Almaty.
Over the past year and a half, the political scene in Kazakhstan has quieted down considerably. The mass protests that gripped the country during the 2019 presidential election and afterward are but a memory.
Russia and the CA states enjoy a “natural” long-standing cooperation in fighting irregular threats, considering shared concerns related to terrorism, extremism, separatism, and transnational organized crime, but also shared approaches to counter them. The collapse of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban – designated as a terrorist organization by Russia – poses exceptional challenges of instability and uncertainty.
The Soviet era brought heavy industrialization of the agriculture sector in Central Asia (CA), aiming at the expansion of cotton (called “white gold”) cultivation but also at an increase in cereals and other staple crops.
Several post-Soviet states are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Furthermore, two of the worst environmental disasters of our times – the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the Aral Sea desertification – happened in the post-Soviet region, with implications that have crossed state and time boundaries.
On 1 March 2021, a message posted on the official Coronavirus Info Telegram channel informed Uzbek citizens that “the first coronavirus vaccine in Uzbekistan ZF-UZ-VAC2001” had been approved. Following messages would contain infographics with images of vials of the “Chinese-Uzbek vaccine” decorated with the Chinese and the Uzbek flags.
The Uzbek minority of Kyrgyzstan has been a passive witness of the recent change of government of the country. This attitude is hardly surprising. The regime change was started by violent protests in the streets of the capital, Bishkek last October. This was the third of such upheaval in 15 years. During the previous “revolutionary” events in 2010, the Uzbek community, representing some 15 % of the population, became the target of extended ethnic violence which claimed up to 500 civilian victims. After that, no real national reconciliation took place.
On 23 June, Almazbek Atambaev, former president of the Kyrgyz Republic, was sentenced in Bishkek to 11 years of prison for his release of the mobster Aziz Batukaev in 2013. The court also mandated the confiscation of Atambayev’s properties that include luxury items, houses and several bank accounts, and the withdrawal of all his state awards.
On 2 May 2020, Kazakh President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev announced through a post on the presidential website the removal of Dariga Nazarbayeva from her position as chair of the country’s senate.
A new US strategy for Central Asia was released on February 5 in a launch event at “The Heritage Foundation” in Washington D.C.
In July 29, 2018, four Western cyclists were killed in Tajikistan's Danghara district by a group of five men who hit them with a car before stabbing them to death. In a video released after the attack, the five men appear to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, while sitting under a tree in front of the Islamic State flag.
The European Council is currently working on a revised EU strategy for Central Asia - which should be launched by 2019 - redefining its policy towards the region following the developments that changed its geopolitical landscape in the last decade.