From March 1st the whole of Kazakhstan will be on the time zone UTC+5. Currently only the country's western regions are in the UTC+5 zone, with the rest of Kazakhstan set an hour later at UTC +6. This means that at midnight on 29 February the central, eastern and southern parts of Kazakhstan will move an hour back. Kazakhstani scientists have claimed that the UTC +6 time zone has had a negative effect on people's biological rhythms and health, as it does not correspond to natural solar time in the country. They believe that the establishment of a single time zone will have a positive impact on people's wellbeing. The clock change will also eliminate time barriers between different regions, and simplify the running of transport and other communications. This in turn will benefit business, government work and emergency services. This switch, however, has had a mixed reception. Some people are unhappy that the reduction in daylight hours will increase their electricity bills, while others are worried that lighter mornings will affect their sleep.
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The daughter of Kazakhstan's first president, Aliya Nazarbayeva, stands accused of seizing control of a business operation worth approximately $170 million. This comes alongside similar charges brought against Valentina Rogova, the wife of the former chairman of the Constitutional Council. Businessman Nurlan Bimurzin broke the news during a press conference, claiming that these alleged transgressions began in 2003, when he and his operation were targeted by the financial police. He alleges that a representative of Nazarbayeva offered to alleviate the pressure in exchange for half the shares in his business. However, within a year, Nazarbayeva purportedly demanded the remaining shares. Bimurzin asserts that Nazarbayeva resorted to kidnapping his father and issuing death threats against his family to secure the remaining shares. Consequently, in 2003, Bimurzin and his family lost their business, comprising seven oil depots and 96 gas stations. Bimurzin also implicated Valentina Rogova in the crime, suggesting she provided protection for Nazarbayeva. For two decades, Bimurzin and his business partner, Medgat Kaliyev, kept silent out of fear for their loved ones' safety. Now, hoping that justice will prevail, they have submitted a statement to the General Prosecutor's Office, which has since been forwarded to the Asset Recovery Committee, Bimurzin told the press conference. Public figure, Zharkyn Kurentayev stated that the assets, estimated at $170 million, were listed as being worth 19,000 tenge (approximately $42) in fraudulent documents. The victims claim they did not even receive this meagre sum. In their formal petition, Bimurzin and Kaliyev requested the initiation of a criminal case against Aliya Nazarbayeva and Valentina Rogova, seeking justice for their alleged crimes. Deputy of the Mazhilis, Ermurat Bapi has also demanded that the Prosecutor General's Office conduct a full investigation.
Speaking at a Defence Ministry meeting on February 27th, the Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu spoke of threats coming from Afghanistan extremists and Western NGO's. The Russian minister prioritized “ensuring military security in the Central Asian strategic area,” and warned that the situation in the region remains complex, with the greatest threat coming from the territory of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Shoigu claimed that over the past year alone, the number of ISIS militants in Afghanistan had increased by 15%. He explained that their key objectives were to spread radical ideology and to conduct subversive activities on the southern borders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO); the Russian-led security alliance which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The Russian defense minister stated that Russia’s Central Military District would concentrate its efforts this year on resolving crisis situations in the countries of the region and participate in seven exercises in the territories of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. With drug production and trafficking from Afghanistan through the Central Asian republics expected to rise by 20%, this would be a primary crises of the CSTO to be address. Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced that his country has frozen its membership in the CSTO. Shoigu also stated that over 100 large pro-Western non-governmental organizations with more than 16,000 representative offices and branches are currently operating in the Central Asia. "Against the backdrop of the special military operation [of Russia against Ukraine]", he said that "these NGOs have significantly increased their anti-Russian activities in order to reduce the military-technical, economic and cultural cooperation of the Central Asian states with the Russian Federation.”
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Interstate Statistical Committee has published its compendium for 2022 on its website. Getting acquainted with the statistics of marriages and divorces of the collection, one sees that in 2022, there were 8.4 marriages and 1.4 divorces for every 1,000 people in Uzbekistan. The marriage indicator is 6.5 in Kazakhstan, and there were 2.3 divorces per 1,000; in Kyrgyzstan the data indicates 7.0 marriages and 1.8 divorces. Also of note was data on the intensity of internal migration, with Kazakhstan leading in this category with 41.3 per 1,000 people moving internally in 2022. In Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the indicator was 6.0, respectively. Tajikistan's data for 2021-2022 is not provided; the country showed 3.7 results per 1,000 people for 2020. At the same time, the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan reports that in 2023, there were 283,800 marriages and 49,200 divorces in the nation. In Kazakhstan, 90,300 marriages were registered between January and September of 2023, an 8.1% decrease from the same period in 2022. Based on the data that was submitted, there were 12,400 divorces in the first nine months of last year, and also an 8.1% decrease in divorces year-on-year. In Kyrgyzstan, 12,552 couples filed for divorce in 2023, while 45,495 marriages were registered before the law. Statistics for Tajikistan in 2021 (data for 2022 isn't yet available) showed that there were 7.6 marriages and 1.4 divorces per thousand. In 2023, 76,444 marriages and 10,298 divorces were officially registered. The statistical collection also includes data on these nations' populations, rates of illness and disability, educational attainment and cultural practices, economic activity, the material and housing circumstances of the populace, the environment, and crime.
From Sabotage to Negligence: Kyrgyz Parliament Seeks to Hold Bishkek Plant Management Accountable After Accident
A special commission is working at the Bishkek thermal power (CHP) plant to find out the cause of the recent accident, with the President of Kyrgyzstan stating that he's taken personal control over the investigation. At a meeting of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic today, MPs demanded the plant's management be held accountable - the same management which issues reassurances that there would be no accidents this winter, and that all equipment was ready for the cold season. "At a strategic facility, the manager has changed three times during the year. It is good that the accident happened at night and not during the day. The damage is said to have exceeded one billion som ($11 million). How many people were hurt, and who will be held responsible? The leaders must answer," MP Emil Toktoshev said, addressing those gathered at the meeting. "It is time to move from just a visual inspection of machinery and equipment to a fully-fledged technical audit, and not only [the Bishkek plant], but, in general, all boiler and power plants should be inspected not by eye. Let's find out what the problems and what needs to be done," said MP Dastan Bekeshev. In the early hours of February 2nd, an incident at the Bishkek CHP plant injured five people, and the city was left without heat and hot water for several days. The interdepartmental commission has been tasked with identifying the cause of the accident within a month. Based on this analysis, a list of urgent tasks will be developed which they say will ensure a stable end to the fall-winter heating period of 2023-24. Measures will also be drawn up to prevent similar situations in the future, including proposals for the reconstruction of the plant, and the decentralization of Bishkek's entire heating system. The Bishkek Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case over the accident.
Representatives of the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan met in Bishkek on February 5th to complete negotiations on another 3.71 km of the common state border, the press service of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic has reported. The next meeting will be held in Tajikistan, with no date yet specified. Currently, approximately 90% of the border has been demarcated, with the remaining 10% still considered disputed. A long-standing source of conflict between the two nations, it is emblematic of the problem that even the length of the border - sometimes cited as being 975-kilomtres long, and at others times 972-kilomteres - is rarely agreed upon. As of January 2023, Tajikistan’s President Rahmon stated that 614-kilometres had been settled upon, backtracking on a previously stated figure of 664.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14394" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]In a sign of thawing relations, however, on November 9th 2023, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic announced that a further 17.98 kilometers of the border had been agreed. With its scant natural resources and dwindling water supplies, the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has been the scene of numerous skirmishes for many years. In 2014, all borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were closed indefinitely to Kyrgyz and Tajik citizens following clashes over a bypass road in disputed territory; mortars were fired and both armies suffered casualties. Trouble spilled over again throughout 2021 and 2022, reportedly starting over a water dispute in the Vorukh enclave, and leaving an unknown number in the hundreds killed, and up to 136,000 people evacuated.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14397" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]An enduring example of the chaos left behind by the USSR, the arbitrary division of Central Asia into Soviet Socialist Republics wholly disregarded existing cultural and geographical realities. This is exemplified by Stalin's application of Lenin’s policy on the “self-identification of working people,” a classic divide-and-rule play which saw culturally Tajik cities such as Samarkand and Bukhara being incorporated into Uzbek territory. In exchange, Tajikistan was given the inhospitable Khojand landmass surrounding the Fan Mountains. As late as 1989, Tajikistan petitioned Mikhail Gorbachev for the ‘return’ of Samarkand and Bukhara.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="14400" img_size="full" el_class="scond-image" parallax_scroll="no" woodmart_inline="no"][vc_column_text woodmart_inline="no" text_larger="no"]This haphazard division also isolated around 100,000 residents in the Ferghana Valley from their central governments, creating eight large enclaves. Although three of these enclaves had populations fewer than 10,000 and two were used exclusively for pastures, the remaining three - Sokh (Uzbekistan within Kyrgyzstan), Vorukh (Tajikistan within Kyrgyzstan), and Shakhimardan (Uzbekistan within Kyrgyzstan) have repeatedly proven problematic, particularly when countries enforce strict border regulations in response to disputes and disagreements over demarcation arrangements. These enclaves have been hotbeds for conflict: between 1989 and 2009, the Ferghana Valley witnessed approximately 20 armed conflicts, and in 2014 alone, Kyrgyzstan reported 37 border incidents.