Tajikistan is a donor-dependent state, but that does not stop President Emomali Rahmon’s administration from undertaking extravagant building projects. The latest case of grandiosity involves the construction of what the president’s website boasts will be Central Asia’s largest theater.
“Only two universities in Kyrgyzstan are worth entering,” says Emir, an 11th-grade student in Bishkek. The rest, he believes, do not value scholarship and instead see students as a means to make a profit.
Few Kazakhstanis were surprised when a top organizer of the 2011 Asian Winter Games, the biggest sporting spectacle the country has ever held, was jailed last October. Aidar Musin was found guilty of using $3 million in state funds earmarked for the event to buy himself luxury cars and prime real estate.
American taxpayers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refurbishing a women’s shelter outside Kyrgyzstan’s capital less than five years ago. Though the Central Asian country is desperately short of such crisis centers, the shelter never functioned and, a member of parliament now says, was improperly privatized instead.
A money-laundering scandal is casting Moldova’s judiciary in an unfavorable light and is raising concerns about the government’s commitment to reforms needed to keep European Union integration on track.
There are three ways Central Asian guest workers travel to Russia, the magnet that draws millions of Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks each year. The most expensive is by plane. Train is less pricey. Bus is cheaper still, but it’s also the slowest and most prone to scams from beginning to end.
Tajikistan, the poorest country to emerge from the Soviet Union, has one economic asset of note – Talco, an aluminum smelter that, in a good year, pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars. For years, the state-owned company has been notoriously non-transparent.