A biweekly conversation about events in Central Asia hosted by veteran journalists Aigerim Toleukhanova and Joanna Lillis.
Russian ‘relokanty’ prompt furious debates in Central Asia
In our podcast this week, hosts Aigerim Toleukhanova and Alisher Khamidov discuss the ongoing crackdown on political dissent in Kyrgyzstan and the president's shadow parliament, which he has empowered to muffle the elected parliament.
Kazakhstan’s presidential election provided few surprises; the incumbent won over 80 percent of the vote. But “against all” took second place in a showing of public anger with the staged-managed show, where there was no real choice.
The president of Uzbekistan has given his daughter a key position in his administration. Is she a reformer?
And thousands of Russians have fled to Central Asia. These relokanty (those who've relocated) are prompting furious debates: Are they guests or tourists? Do they have the right to complain? Will waves of inflation-boosting Russians continue to flood the region? For some Kazakhs, the answer is cancellation.
Holding investors (and Russian sex fiends) accountable
In our podcast this week, hosts Aigerim Toleukhanova and Alisher Khamidov discuss the Uzbekistan president’s surprising response to new evidence of forced labor. Coal-mining deaths are nothing unusual in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but the governments are beginning to hold investors responsible. And a Russian who fled to Kazakhstan lands himself in trouble for offering tips on how to pick up hot local girls.
Plus, Peter Leonard interviews Ruslan Myatiev, editor of the independent website Turkmen News, about Turkmenistan’s two presidents, closer ties with Russia, and why the country will not build any new gas export pipelines while Putin still rules.
Language, borders and radicalism
In our podcast this week, hosts Aigerim Toleukhanova and Alisher Khamidov discuss why Russia’s war on Ukraine is prompting people in Central Asia to learn local languages. They also look at the challenges of border demarcation in the Fergana Valley and how the Kyrgyz government’s secretive negotiations with Uzbekistan have invited blowback.
Plus, Peter Leonard interviews Nurbek Bekmurzaev, who has been tracking Kyrgyzstan’s attempt to introduce religious education in schools.
Putin stole the show, but Turkey brought the goods
In our podcast this week, hosts Aigerim Toleukhanova and Joanna Lillis discuss how Tajikistan is rounding up journalists following a violent crackdown in the Pamirs earlier this year. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is detaining Karakalpak activists from Uzbekistan – and Tashkent is mum on the constitutional changes that prompted unrest in July.
But it was the Russian and Turkish presidents stealing headlines last week as they jostled for influence in Central Asia.
The Russians have come
In our podcast this week, hosts Aigerim Toleukhanova and Joanna Lillis discuss how Russians fleeing conscription are upending life in Central Asia and placing Kazakhstan in an awkward position.
Also, we hear an update from Peter Leonard, our Central Asia editor, on the political drama after the recent fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the worst inter-state violence in Central Asia since independence. In the volatile border areas, many people are angry and worried after the two countries agreed to withdraw troops, fearing they have been left exposed.
And after 600 days, a small group of protestors outside China's embassy in Almaty is still demanding answers about the fates of their loved ones in the Xinjiang gulag. Also awkward for Kazakhstan.
The week China displaced Russia in Central Asia
In the first episode of our new podcast: When Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin visited Central Asia this week, it was clear the Chinese president held the upper hand. Xi made a strong statement of support for Kazakh territorial integrity and sovereignty, while Russia's leader struggled to explain his faltering war in Ukraine. It was a watershed movement in the region's independent history, as the countries draw closer to China and further from Russia.
Also, the worst violence yet between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan flared as their leaders were sitting alongside the Russian and Chinese presidents at a regional security summit. The violence made the Shanghai Cooperation Organization look like just another toothless talk shop.
Plus: Goodbye Nur-Sultan. Snap elections. And more.
Just a layperson, working the night shift, with a longtime interest in history, human geography and geopolitics. This podcast is much to my liking; very informative and extremely interesting. I hope you folks keep at it and that this helps it gain more traction. Best wishes, KM