Kremlin kingpin Vladimir Putin’s pet project to drive former Soviet states back into Moscow’s embrace – via the Customs Union -- is gathering momentum. But the possibility of expansion doesn’t thrill all the union’s current members.
Central Asian states are becoming entangled in a trade spat involving Russia and Ukraine. Ostensibly, the dispute’s origin can be traced to Russian concerns over the quality of Ukrainian chocolate. But Russia’s real aim, according to some observers, is enhancing the viability of the Kremlin-led Customs Union.
Kyrgyzstan is moving decisively to join a Moscow-led trade body, but the process will take time as Bishkek seeks preferences that would protect its garment industry and legions of migrant laborers, says a top Kyrgyz official.
On a main thoroughfare in central Bishkek stands a rare type of building in Kyrgyzstan these days: a busy factory. Women hunched over long tables can be seen from the street working late into the evening in boxy rooms under the greenish glow of florescent lights.