**UPDATE (July 26): The Ministry of Social Development has stopped all international adoption agencies from working in Kyrgyzstan, for now. According to a July 26 Vecherny Bishkek report, which includes a list of the agencies, four have been banned due to "grave violations." Six others have been suspended for two months.
Kids in Kyrgyzstan’s state childcare institutions are again at the center of the country’s lackluster war on corruption. Though a long-standing moratorium on international adoption in Kyrgyzstan was lifted last year, authorities seem bent on bringing it back after the high-profile arrest of a minister involved in the process.
The moratorium was originally instituted in February 2009 because of corruption in the adoption system and reasonable fears children were not being protected. (The campaign later drew sensationalist coverage in press reports, which played on fears of "Americans harvesting our children's organs”). Despite repeated promises to prospective parents to lift the ban, it dragged on because of chaos in government. For at least 65 American families who had already started the adoption process, the freeze left dozens of children in limbo for years. A fair number had congenital illnesses and needed treatment in the West. Some died waiting.
Thousands of men filled every nook and cranny of the Haji Yacoub Mosque in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital, for the first day of Ramadan on July 20. This year, the holy month began on a Friday, Muslims' main day of prayer.
David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.
Tajikistan is sitting on “super-giant” oil and gas reserves, says the head of a Canadian firm prospecting in the country’s southwest since 2008.
Tethys Petroleum says Tajikistan may have more hydrocarbons than what remains in the British segments of the North Sea. The company’s stock surged in London on the July 19 announcement. Such a reserve, if extracted (and shared with the people), could radically alter the economy of Central Asia’s poorest state.
The announcement came after Gustavson Associates, an American mining consultancy, estimated that seismic data shows Tethys’s Bokhtar Production Sharing Contract (PSC) area contains 27.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, including 114 trillion cubic feet of gas and 8.5 billion barrels of oil and condensate. The 25,000-square kilometer Bokhtar PSC is a “highly prospective region which has existing oil and gas discoveries but which has seen limited exploration to date,” according to Tethys’s website.
“Tethys is operating in a world class basin with enormous and untapped potential,” said CEO David Robson in a press release. “The deep prospects being pursued in Tajikistan have 'super-giant' potential and any exploration success will be transformational for the company.”
The press release cautioned, however, that the reserves are not definite and a variety of factors (including “government regulation” and “political issues” – realistic concerns in a country as corrupt as Tajikistan) could prevent Tethys from extracting the oil and gas.
Didn’t know NATO was in the personal-protection business? Neither did NATO.
Istanbul vendors selling watches, knives and batteries from folding tables are offering a product bound to surprise the NATO officials who regularly visit the city: pressurized canisters of “American Style NATO Super-Paralisant.”
Also known as pepper spray, the 40-milliliter bottles of “CS-Gas Silliarde” claim to be made in Germany. But the G.I. Joe-look is 100-percent American.
It’s unclear how much demand there is for the spray in a city where the crime rate is relatively low.
One merchant in an underpass in the Eminönü neighborhood said he first saw the product – which he sells at the competitive price of 6 Turkish lira (roughly $3.50) – about two years ago. He laughed when told the slogan on the carton, which reads “Body Protect Aerosol Type,” could be misunderstood as a different type of defense: We were thinking deodorant.
But don’t be alarmed: NATO isn't arming the Turkish population. A spokesman in Brussels confirmed to EurasiaNet.org that the spray is “not a NATO product.”
Allegations that a member of Kyrgyzstan's KGB-successor agency organized the brutal rape of his wife have outraged women’s rights activists in Bishkek. But what rights defenders call an ordinary crime is having an extraordinary effect because of the victim’s response: she pressed charges.
Worshippers wait outside the Russian Orthodox Church in Bishkek for the acclaimed Tikhvin Icon of Our Lady to arrive from Russia. Believed to work miracles, the icon is visiting Kyrgyzstan for the first time, traveling across the country from July 9 to 13.
David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.
Tired of sluggish negotiations over the fate of their military bases in Tajikistan, officials from Moscow have upped the ante with emotional tough talk this week. Dushanbe, the Russian message is, needs us more than we need them.
Over 6,000 soldiers from the 201st Motorized Rifle Division, one of Russia’s largest contingents abroad, are stationed in Tajikistan. They famously helped President Emomali Rakhmon stay afloat during Tajikistan’s 1992-1997 civil war. But their basing rights are set to expire in 2014, and Rakhmon’s government says it expects payment for any extension. In response, the Russians say that come 2014, when NATO departs Afghanistan, Tajikistan is going to be begging for them to stay.
During a meeting last September, Rakhmon and Russia’s then President Dmitry Medvedev publicly agreed to extend the base deal for 49 years, and promised to work out the details in early 2012. But Rakhmon looked miserable while making the announcement standing beside Medvedev, analysts noted at the time. And talk of a $300 million demand for rent, while denied by the Tajik side, poisoned coverage of the meetings.
Tajik officials quietly confirm they are indeed looking for rent, but nowhere near $300 million, and that they want an agreement for 10 years with an option to renew, not 49. This week, the chief of the Russian General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, reportedly said Moscow will not pay the “stubborn” Tajiks.
It wasn't exactly a surprise when Uzbekistan pulled out of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Moscow’s alternative to NATO, this week. But while many Russian commentators appear offended, some are asking if a new CSTO rule on hosting foreign bases was just too much for Tashkent to stomach.
Tashkent has long been the nebulous body’s sulking brat, refusing to participate in joint military exercises and antagonizing fellow members such as neighboring Tajikistan. At the same time, Uzbekistan has become critical to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan. So the withdrawal, for those who see the CSTO in direct competition with NATO, stings.
Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the CIS Institute in Moscow, told RIA Novosti that Uzbekistan’s choice displays "a clear desire of President [Islam] Karimov to flirt with the United States."
The Voice of Russia calls the move “risky.” Andrei Grozin, the head of the Central Asia Department at the CIS Institute, told the outlet that “Tashkent’s foreign policy is zigzagging” while it tries to “win the love of NATO.”
During a pivotal moment for Kyrgyzstan’s parliament – as lawmakers prepare a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, and as they discuss whether to nationalize the country’s largest mine – the people’s deputies took a moment to focus on sartorial issues.
A new set of rules and recommendations approved late June 26 bans visitors and staff from wearing miniskirts and clashing ties inside the Jogorku Kenesh, local media outlets report. The rules do not, however, apply to the deputies themselves.
The Jogorku Kenesh’s committee on parliamentary procedure and ethics has forbidden women from wearing shiny embroidery or exposing too much cleavage. Women must also go easy with the perfume. Men must ensure their shirt and tie match the color of their suit. No baggy sweaters are allowed and jeans are strictly verboten.
The committee encourages both men and women to wear discreet colors, such as blue, beige, gray and brown. Everyone is now prohibited from wearing lace, and no one is allowed to enter the White House in a tank top or flashing his or her stomach.
Are these rules necessary? Forbidding slippers and flip-flops does make good safety sense. (So would banning bare-knuckle brawls and guns.)
The arrest of the popular former mayor of Kyrgyzstan’s capital on corruption charges, despite his immunity as a sitting parliamentary deputy, looks like risky business for the weak government in Bishkek.
Nariman Tyuleyev, who served as Bishkek mayor under former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, is charged with corruption, costing the state some $1.4 million when he purchased unneeded and overpriced Chinese-made city buses back in 2008, local news agencies report.
The case against him is not particularly surprising in a city known for flashy and unmitigated graft. And this is far from the first time Tyuleyev has been linked to sleaze: In a conversation where his name was mentioned in 2008, shortly after being appointed acting-mayor by Bakiyev, the US Embassy tosses this telling aside into a cable later made available by Wikileaks: “Note: Many connect Tuliyev with organized crime. End note.”
But Tyuleyev (often spelled Tuleyev and Tuleev) isn’t just another official from the hated Bakiyev regime. He’s currently a member of the opposition Ata-Jurt party in parliament. Thus, it would seem Tyuleyev has parliamentary immunity, though the prosecutor’s office says the crime is so grave that it can revoke his immunity. Tyuleyev was arrested this weekend and put in temporary detention for two months.