250 episodes

In this biweekly podcast, host Bruce Pannier welcomes expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Majlis RFE/RL

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In this biweekly podcast, host Bruce Pannier welcomes expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

    Clamping Down On Religious Freedom In Central Asia

    Clamping Down On Religious Freedom In Central Asia

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) just released its annual report on freedom of religion in the world. The sections on Central Asia make for grim reading. Constitutionally, people in Central Asia can practice whatever faith they choose. In practice, however, only the state-approved forms of Islam and the Russian Orthodox Church are acceptable to authorities in Central Asia. Other groups face a myriad of problems; discussions of religion posted on social networks that stray from state sanctioned norms can lead to legal repercussions. Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss are Mollie Blum, a researcher at USCIRF who helped compile the data on Central Asia for the recent report, and Felix Corley, editor of the Forum 18 News Service that monitors religious freedom in the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe.

    • 52 min
    British Foreign Secretary Cameron Visits Central Asia

    British Foreign Secretary Cameron Visits Central Asia

    British Foreign Secretary David Cameron just completed an official trip to all five Central Asian states. For Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, this was the first time a British foreign secretary had ever visited. In this episode of the Majlis podcast, we look at Cameron’s Central Asia tour, what he was offering to his hosts, and what he was able to accomplish during the trip. Joining host Bruce Pannier are guests Aijan Sharshenova, a research fellow at the Bishkek-based think tank Crossroads Central Asia; Ben Godwin, the head of analysis at PRISM Political Risk Management, who lived and worked in Kazakhstan for seven years and continues to monitor events there; and Luca Anceschi, professor of Central Asian studies at Glasgow University and author of several books on Central Asia.

    • 47 min
    Are Tajik Government Policies Helping Create Terrorists?

    Are Tajik Government Policies Helping Create Terrorists?

    Can an authoritarian government's policies contribute to its citizens becoming terrorists? Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s government has received financial and security aid from many governments and for more than three decades, in an effort to keep Tajikistan from becoming a second Afghanistan or Syria. During that time, Rahmon has exploited these concerns to crush all potential opposition and allow his family to take control of nearly every profitable business in the country. In recent months, a few dozen citizens of Tajikistan have carried out -- or been accused of carrying out or abetting -- terrorist attacks in several countries. Should the Tajik government also be held responsible? Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss this are guests Marius Fossum, the regional representative in Central Asia for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Steve Swerdlow, a rights lawyer with long experience in Central Asia and currently an associate professor of the practice of human rights at the University of Southern California.

    • 47 min
    Tajiks In Russia Living In Fear After Moscow Terrorist Attack

    Tajiks In Russia Living In Fear After Moscow Terrorist Attack

    Russian security forces arrested several Tajik citizens in the wake of the March 22 attack on the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow that left more than 140 dead, claiming they were the perpetrators of the massacre. The news touched off a wave of xenophobia against Central Asian migrant laborers in Russia, with most of the suspicion and hostility directed toward ethnic Tajiks. This overt racism is also spilling over into Tajik-Russian relations. Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss these matters and more are Edward Lemon, a professor at Texas A&M University and president of the Oxus Society for Central Asia; and Salimjon Aioubov, director of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service.

    • 46 min
    Turkmenistan's Search For New Gas Markets

    Turkmenistan's Search For New Gas Markets

    In the first two weeks of March, Turkmenistan has been unusually active in promoting its potential as a natural-gas supplier. Among the countries Turkmen officials have named as potential customers are Azerbaijan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Kazakhstan. Why is Turkmenistan suddenly so interested in finding new markets for its gas, and what are the chances any of these countries might become importers of Turkmen gas? Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss these questions are guests John Roberts, one of Europe’s leading specialists on the Middle East, Russian, Caspian, Turkish, and Kurdish energy security issues; and Farruh Yusupov, the director of RFERL’s Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk.

    • 42 min
    Death, Detention, Deportation: The Plight of Karakalpak Activists

    Death, Detention, Deportation: The Plight of Karakalpak Activists

    Karakalpak activists are experiencing problems in Kazakhstan and in Europe. Trouble started after Uzbek security forces brutally suppressed a peaceful protest over the region’s sovereignty within Uzbekistan in Nukus, capital of the Karakalpakstan Sovereign Republic, in July 2022. This year, a Karakalpak activists died in Kazakhstan while another is currently detained there. Two more activists in Europe face possible deportation. Joining host Bruce Pannier are Arzu, a pseudonym for a Karakalpak activist now living outside Uzbekistan; Catherine Putz, managing editor at The Diplomat magazine; Leila Seiitbek, chairwoman of the NGO Freedom For Eurasia; and noted human rights lawyer Steve Swerdlow. (Note: Arzu’s comments have been voiced over to protect family and friends in Karakalpakstan.)

    • 55 min

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