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Central Asia: Challenges and Risks in February 2019 of the Year

Central Asia wakes from hibernation. Some states are rather radical - personnel reshuffles in Kazakhstan - President Nazabaev's "public flogging" and dismissal of the government, Tajikistan - irritable plans and issues of turbid military formations and cooperation with China, Kyrgyzstan in anticipation of Putin, Uzbekistan - new innovative steps in development and its own security policy in the region, in Turkmenistan - everything is calm, as always, with a great fence of neutrality.

Kyrgyzstan: Putin's digitization, irrigation and anticipation.

2019 year by the head of state - Sooronbay Zhenbekov declared the Year of regional development and digitalization of the country ". The emphasis on the regions, for the second year, shows that President Zeinbekov's commitment to his main professional path, which for the most part of his biography was limited to regionalization, both at the level of one area, Osh for a long time, and the regions as a whole as prime minister. President Kooronbay Zhanbekov, at a three-day conference where representatives of all levels of government were invited, as well as representatives of local self-government from across the country, "We are putting ambitious plans to implement the State Irrigation Program, and we set ambitious goals. Requirements are high. According to the program, up to 2026 year is planned to develop more than 65 thousand hectares of new irrigated land ", - recalled the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. This event can be considered as one of the prescriptive, symbolic for the rule of Zeinbekov. In it, in essence, concrete steps for the state development strategy in the near future are defined for the first time.

Digitization is an actual trend, which, on the one hand, should compensate for the development of the country in a common vector with technologies and world tendencies. Moreover, even in the reign of the previous presidents, normative and structural preparation for such changes was prepared. There, in the 2019 year in the capital of Kyrgyzstan - Bishkek, the gradual introduction of the platform's electronic program - "Smart City" - was launched to ensure the comfort and security of the Kyrgyz people. The main directions at this stage were two components: the first - the opportunity for citizens to receive government services in electronic format, and the second - to ensure, through the installation of cameras of video and video violations violations reduce the level of road violations and incidents. The CCTV system will help authorities to predict the risks and take the necessary measures to eliminate them.

This is one of the most discussed projects and management experiments with a local radius of the state capital.

Expectation of Vladimir Putin's official visit. Which confirmed the head of the press service of the President of the CD Daniyar Sydykov - "The question is now being worked out. State visit of the Russian president is expected at the end of March 2019 year. "

Almost all of February in Kyrgyzstan was marked by events of different levels, anticipating the visit of the President of the Russian Federation - Vladimir Putin. From intensive visits of high official level, as well as working groups. So with 3-4 in February, Kyrgyzstan made an official visit - the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov. A delegation of the Russian Federation headed by Konstantin Chuichenko to participate in the 1 meeting of the Kyrgyz-Russian Intergovernmental Commission arrived in the Kyrgyz Republic in March 21. Welcoming the delegation, Soronbay Zhenbekov noted that "Kyrgyz-Russian cooperation has entered a qualitatively new level of strategic partnership and alliance. In recent years, a high degree of trust has been established between Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Confirmation of this is the planned visit of Vladimir Putin to Kyrgyzstan in March of this year ".

However, in addition to official visits, it is worth noting two civilian apparently shares, as well as waiting for President Putin's visit to the Kyrgyz Republic. On February 28 in Bishkek an event was announced to the village of an unheard-of organization, with the very ambitious name of the NGO "WORLD LEAGUE OF CITIZENS AND CIVIL ASSOCIATIONS". Which announced the round table: "The role and place of the Russian Federation in world processes! Meaning of the upcoming official visit of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the Kyrgyz Republic! The need for the formation and development of the intergovernmental format of the Kyrgyz-Russian relations, which will create conditions and minimize the destructive influence of Infernal ideology into political processes! " There was no more about this happy event of information in the media. It remains to be assumed that this was a rehearsal of the bread-solo meeting of the "World Civilian League ..." with the president of the Russian Federation.

The second action surprised the citizens of Kyrgyzstan themselves. Residents of one of the richest regions of Kyrgyzstan - Kara-Suy district of the Osh oblast addressed a letter and asked the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to hand over their appeal to the head of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Zhanbekov. In the letter, they complained about the head of their rural government, which harassed the locals, extorted, intimidated and blackmailed. Residents of rural districts explained that all possibilities of meeting with the authorities of Kyrgyzstan have already been exhausted, therefore they decided to appeal to the head of the Russian Federation. The letter called for the transfer to the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Zhanbekov of this appeal and to arrange a personal meeting. Despite the fact that later residents of the village made a denial, the most amazing turn of events, the addressee and intermediary of this letter surprised the citizens of Kyrgyzstan, becoming one of the most discussed topics in February.

Well, at the end of winter, the president of another country, a member of the EAEC, forced to finally wake up. Gringly addressing Kyrgyzstanians with a wish and recommendation regarding their President Sooronbay Zhanbekov - "This is a very decent person. It happens that at the right time and in the right place in the most difficult times, the Lord sends to the person who is very much in need of this people. I am very hopeful and convinced that if you gather around this person, then you can achieve a lot, "said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. At a meeting with Ambassador Kyrgyzstan in Belarus, Kubanychbek Omuraliyev, he also noted that Belarus would always be "a friend of Kyrgyzstan".

The sparkiness lies in the fact that in the territory of Belarus, another, runner-up president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev has been living in the country for eight years, and he is a deportee in the Kyrgyz Republic. Obviously, such a residence and the choice of the ex-president of Kyrgyzstan is also justified by the support of the President of Belarus - Alexander Lukashenko.

Kazakhstan: not a "presidential transit", but a government.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is a state in Central Asia, and perhaps in the whole of the post-Soviet space, where one president - Nursultan Abyshevich Nazarbayev (for the time being from 1990 till now) - has ruled for so long. The solid term of the presidency and certain political and economic conditions, especially in the last 5-7 years, have formed in the community, in the expert environment, the discourse on "elite transit in Kazakhstan. And if more precisely the "presidential transit and the evolution of elite networks ". "Much of the debate over the change of power in Kazakhstan focuses on who will replace President Nazarbayev and how the new president will be able to consolidate the regime." Were discussions, articles were written, quiet expectations went into broad discussions ...

However, winter 2019 year covered its last snowfall. Or rather the dissolution of the 21 government in February 2019 of the year, by the leader of the "Father of the Nation" (officially "El bass" in the Kazakh language) - Nursultan Abishevich. Thus, the jubilee, 10-e, the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan has gone down in history. His resignation was predetermined after unflattering epithets from the head of state at an expanded meeting. This is the first case in the history of sovereign Kazakhstan, when the president does not accept the resignation of the government on the application of the prime minister, but actually fired him as he did not work. Thus, the Kazakh government, Bakytzhan Sagintayev, was dismissed due to lack of results in a number of branches of the economy.

The rationale for such a sharp move was опубликовано in a statement by N. Nazarbayev on the official website of the head of state. In it, Nazarbayev recalled that he initiated the third modernization and "Plan of the Nation - 100 concrete steps", which were aimed at accelerating structural reforms. The government has adopted many laws, but no positive changes have taken place. The Cabinet was not able to create real incentives and tools for the growth of the economy, and GDP growth was provided at the expense of raw materials. The head of state pointed out that insufficient employment was created in the country, and small and medium-sized businesses did not turn into a driver of growth, as ministers ignored work in this direction. "Funds that are available from the government and in the field are not spent on purpose. After all, control will be established. An in-depth conversation on this topic will take place at the Congress of the Nur Otan Party, - summed up the head of state.

Already in 6 days a congress of the ruling party "Nur Otan" was held in which the president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev took part. The congress considered the program of the party until the 2030 of the year "Society of Well-being: 10 for the Decade", developed on the instructions of the head of state. President of Kazakhstan at the congress gave orders on a wide range of social issues.

As for the new government, we give the opinion of the dean of the School of State and Public Policy and Law of AlmaU Askar Nursha: "The current government is not new, but rather updated, but with a new prime minister. Individual government members were stripped of the government by the president, irritating the population and its active strata. Most of the government still retained its seats, even though their activities raised questions from society. It also says a lot: from the point of view of power, they fulfill the tasks they are facing. What does that mean? Reforms will continue, but in a controlled and controlled regime, the pace of political modernization will not be seriously accelerated. Mamina's personal task (the possible leader of a new government) is to show that his government is not the Sagintayev-2 government. A number of point-by-point, but important personnel changes were made. They show well, on the one hand, where the recruiting and requiring staffing reinforcements, and on the other hand, what new accents will be allocated. "

Thus, in Kazakhstan today, the expectations from the "presidential transit" have gradually shifted to the expectations and otkryk of the government transit and its consequences, initiated by the president of the country.

Some shock to the general public, but also for a narrow circle of elite and rich circles of Kazakstan has become increasingly appearing. information about Kazakhstan's financial institutions in world reports in relation to well-known world campaigns and projects. So in February, the Bloomberg news agency reported that Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro kept millions of government funds in accounts managed by Nurlan Baidilda Ltd. a native of Kazakhstan Nurlan Baydilda (now a citizen of Russia). And former lawyer Donald Trump Michael Cohen at hearings in the Committee on Supervision and Governmental Reform of the House of Representatives of the Congress confirmed that he received a monetary reward for consulting from the Kazakhstan BTA Bank for assistance in returning from the United States funds in the amount of $ 4 billion to $ 6 billion, presumably stolen by the ex-head of the bank (Muhar Ablyazov). Leakage and investments of financial capital Kazakhstan in all the more significant world, including international projects, demonstrate the scale and shadow market, and markets in general, for which Kazakhstan's investors can reach the whole world.

Kazakhstan has abandoned the Russian language on banknotes and coins of the national currency - tenge. The corresponding decree, the text of which is placed in the Information Law System of the Republic of Kazakhstan, was signed by Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This document stipulates that all inscriptions on banknotes other than collections must be in the national Kazakh language. An exception will be investment and collector coins, where foreign languages ​​are allowed. At present, banknote inscriptions are duplicated. As a rule, the information on the front page is printed in Kazakh, and with the reverse - in Russian.

Uzbekistan - the most independent player-state of Central Asia: high-speed Internet, general - Silk viza with Kazakhstan, and their own view on the risks in the region.

At the suggestion of President Shavkat Mirziyev as a logical continuation of the work begun in 2018 year, to raise it to an even higher level, 2019 is called the Year of Active Investments and Social Development.

"Investments are the driver of the economy, figuratively speaking, its heart. In all branches and spheres, all regions with investments come in new technologies, advanced experience, highly skilled specialists, entrepreneurship is accelerating. Our highest goal is to ensure that every person in Uzbekistan, regardless of his nationality, language and religion, lives freely, in peace and well-being, was happy with his life ", - noted Shavkat Mirzoyev. The head of state has outlined large-scale plans and important tasks in this direction.

One of the most innovative 2019 projects of the year was the following:

  1. Uzbekistan plans to increase Internet speed in 2019 year even in 10 times
  2. In 2019, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan plan to launch the overall Silk visa. The visa is introduced for the joint attraction of foreign tourists to the Central Asian region and popularization of this route as a whole.

A significant difference in the policy of Uzbekistan with other Central Asian countries, and their explanation was given in interview Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan, Komila Rashidova. Beyond the common cultural and economic component that Uzbekistan is currently actively developing, two points are also highlighted, which clearly demonstrate that Uzbekistan's policy has its own approaches and positions on security and foreign policy issues, which differ from other countries of the region, whose policy is completely in line with the position of the units to which they are included - the CSTO, the SCO, the EAEC. Own position of Uzbekistan is rather balanced and pragmatic. Here, in particular the following theses:

- "In the concept of foreign policy of the republic it is indicated that Uzbekistan does not join military-political blocs, including the CSTO. Also, our troops do not participate in peacekeeping operations outside of Uzbekistan. We do not place foreign military bases in our territory.

Meanwhile, we support the establishment of bilateral relations between the countries, including in the military-technical cooperation. Earlier, our troops did not participate in military exercises, but now the situation has changed.

Tashkent does not consider Afghanistan as a country posing a threat to terrorism. For us, this is a friendly state where people who seek peace are living. We are expanding comprehensive political ties, the Consulate General of Afghanistan has opened in Termez. There are also trade relations between countries, for example, we supply electricity there. Tashkent is promoting the project of construction of the Mazar-Sharif-Herat railway. It will make a real contribution to the reconstruction of the economy of Afghanistan, to create jobs, to increase the transit potential of the country.

Thus, Uzbekistan, in addition to officially neutral Turkmenistan, is currently pursuing the most independent policy in the region.

Tajikistan: the expectation of the future and the sharp issues of military formations and cooperation with China.

The main emphasis in the discourse of the first persons and officials of Tajikistan sound only in the context of the iridescent future, that is, in the discussion of the 10 Top Events of the Year 2019, which will impress and improve the life of Tajik citizens in 2019 year. Among them, the main event - the launch of the Rogun HPP, or more precisely the commissioning of the second unit Rogun hydroelectric power station in the spring of this year. Thanks to which the power capacity in the country will increase, and light will become more. The opening of several cultural complexes, the largest mosque in Central Asia and the transition to a non-cash economy.

However, from reports on Tajikistan, the most resonant was not the internal information, the more formal discourse, but the external one. So, February 18 published the Washington Post Article - "In Central Asia's forbidding highlands, a quiet newcomer: Chinese troops."

In it, the journalist The Washington Post Jerry Shi writes that a new player has traced the passage to Afghanistan, China, in the inhospitable mountains of Central Asia. At least three years later, Chinese troops quietly monitor the narrow passage in Tajikistan, located on the western border of China - this conclusion was made by a Washington Post journalist from an interview, analysis of satellite imagery and photographs, and from his personal observations.

Analysts say that the Chinese, whom the reporters faced with The Post, may be paramilitary forces under the command of a central military leadership, but technically different from the People's Liberation Army. American officials say they are aware of the deployment of China's forces, but do not have a clear understanding of its operations. They say they do not mind the Chinese presence, because the United States also believes that the porous Afghan-Tajik border may pose a security threat. China's invasion of Afghanistan is "fascinating, but not surprising, and should be welcomed by Washington," said Eli Ratner, vice president of the Center for New American Security, as well as former advisor to Vice President George Biden.

Discovery, analysis and publication of the Washington Post has continued, as - the Chinese Ministry of Defense made a statement defending military cooperation with Tajikistan after reports of a significant presence of Chinese troops based in Tajikistan.

The spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Ren Guoqiang, told reporters at a monthly briefing that cooperation between the two countries "is consistent with" international law and relevant resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. "This cooperation benefits both countries, their military forces and promotes regional peace and stability," Ren said. Further, Ren said that China's military is not present in the neighboring Vakhan corridor in Afghanistan, which is consistent with the early rebuttal of Chinese officials denying any plans to deploy troops in Afghanistan, with which China shares a narrow border.

Despite the denial of Chinese military activity in the area, unconfirmed reports allege that Chinese military vehicles were seen in this corridor (north of Tajikistan and south of Pakistan).

The Washington Post believes that "China apparently sought to keep its base in Tajikistan secretly, staffed by members of the paramilitary People's Armed Police. The Washington Post, in February, reported a significant Chinese military complex in the region, although it is still unclear what the mission of the troops was, and Ren did not provide any details. The area is also bordered by Xinjiang, where Beijing has launched mass security operations following the violent attacks of Muslim separatists in recent years. "

The beginning of the year in Central Asia demonstrates two dimensions. Domestic countries - where states, denoting the ahadis, form socio-economic policies, reforms, and new personnel changes. And another - an external dimension, which is increasingly changing the region. The whole system of coordinates, in which both the threats themselves, and their supposedly epicenteres, and the role of dominant players, as well as deployed military blocs, are changing.

The dimensional life of the region is already evidently gradually changing. And maybe winter, 2019 year will be the starting point for significant changes.

Elmira Nogoibaeva
Head of Analytical Center "Polis Asia" (Bishkek)