• KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00211 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09411 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 36

A Eurasian Perspective on the Historic Conviction of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez

On July 16, a federal court in New York found United States Senator Robert "Bob" Menendez (D) guilty on 16 counts in a corruption trial, including charges of accepting bribes to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar, obstruction of justice and extortion. He is the first U.S. senator to be convicted as a foreign agent and the charges collectively carry a potential sentence of 222 years in prison. Bribery charges involved receiving gold bars worth over $100,000 and more than $480,000 in cash as well as a Mercedes-Benz for his wife. “This wasn't politics as usual. This was politics for profit,” summarized Damian Williams, an attorney for the Southern District of New York. According to federal prosecutors, among other things, Menendez helped secure millions of dollars of U.S. aid for Egypt and used his office to assist a multi-million-dollar deal with a Qatari fund. Egypt’s intelligence and military officials are said to have bribed him and his wife at a time when U.S. military aid to the country would have paused due to human rights concerns. Menendez also used his official position “to protect and enrich” individuals in exchange for payments, including helping a New Jersey businessman secure a halal certification monopoly with regards to U.S. meat exports to Egypt. Striking similarities to another recent “influence-for-sale” scandal For many Europeans, this U.S. case resembles the European Union’s own Qatargate scandal, which broke out in 2022 and unveiled how foreign governments (Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania) have been channeling hundreds of thousands of euros to a ring of elected European Parliament officials who, in turn, were leveraging their authority to benefit these clients. The services included “attempts to manipulate the Parliament” and “scheming to kill off six parliamentary resolutions condemning Qatar’s human rights record” as Politico reports. In his plea deal, Antonio Panzeri, the chief of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), admitted to receiving bribes as well as to leading and participating in a criminal organization. This criminal organization reportedly doled out bribes to EU officials through two NGOs named Fight Impunity and No Peace Without Justice, which were allegedly set up to launder money and help fund the scheme. In Menendez’s case, the money ran through his wife’s consultancy. Qatargate allegations extended beyond the Middle East and North Africa. For instance, Atlantico.fr reported that Panzeri and his associates may have been corrupted by at least two Kazakh criminal figures. Europeans appeared lenient on corruption as Panzeri only received a five-year prison sentence, of which four would be suspended and the one year he’d serve would be under house arrest with an electronic bracelet. Momentum behind investigations of key suspects has since waned, leading the EU Observer to call Qatargate “a missed opportunity to bring Europe to justice”. Foreign policy priorities pushed by Senator Menendez need to be re-examined When public officials are found to have used their office to promote external interests, their past policy activities should be closely examined. Bob Menendez has been a member of...

Intrigue Shadows a Rugged Motor Race with Central Asian Roots

Several vehicle crews from Turkmenistan are competing in the Silk Way Rally, a 5,243-kilometer race that started in Russia’s Siberian city of Tomsk on July 5 and will finish in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on July 15 after passing through mountain and desert terrain. The Russia-backed event has attracted scrutiny not just for the off-road adventure – its organizers face U.S. sanctions for allegedly helping Russian military intelligence. The annual Silk Way Rally, which comes at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over the war in Ukraine, has a history of Central Asian involvement since it was first held in 2009. The initial route started in Kazan, Russia, went through Kazakhstan and finished in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. After a few more route variations, the 2016 edition began in Red Square in Moscow and passed through Kazakhstan on the way to the finish in Beijing after an epic 10,735 kilometers. The race was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. The rally has had competitions for various categories, including trucks, cars, SSVs (Special Service Vehicles, of a type often used by police or firefighting units for difficult conditions at high speeds) and quad bikes, which are four-wheel, all-terrain vehicles. [caption id="attachment_20146" align="aligncenter" width="374"] silkwayrally.com[/caption] The rally, which purports to follow routes used by merchants on the so-called Silk Road network many centuries ago, is reminiscent of the renowned Dakar Rally in West Africa. It has recently come under suspicion as an alleged front for Russian operatives. Past winners and competitors in the Silk Way Rally have included people from France, Spain and other Western European countries, as well as Ukraine, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Argentina. At least two dozen countries were represented in several editions of the annual race in previous years. This year, nationals from about half a dozen countries signed up and the vast majority are Russian, illustrating the impact of sanctions and the deterioration in ties since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Several two-member teams from Turkmenistan, including brothers Merdan and Shokhrat Toylyev, are competing in the T2 class of cross-country vehicles. A Kyrgyz citizen is listed with a Russian in a team in another vehicle category. The 2024 Silk Way Rally is not recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, also known by its initials FIA. The Paris-based governing body of motorsport has taken action to isolate Russia and its ally, the government in Belarus, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The race has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which on June 12 said it was imposing sanctions on the organization and its directors for alleged ties to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. The department said Silk Way head Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov, a Russian citizen, had received awards from the GRU for his work and appears to use his properties in Europe as transit points for Russian military intelligence officers. “Bulat, who is Silk Way’s CEO and general director, alongside his son Amir Bulatovich Yanborisov (Amir),...

Women in Central Asia in Need of Protection from Violence

 Central Asian Countries are seeing a new wave of violence against women and girls, and the fight against their long-standing powerlessness is just beginning. In 2023, the Women, Peace and Security Index (WPS Index), published by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the PRIO Centre on Gender, Peace and Security, found Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan the most dangerous countries in Central Asia for women. Things were deemed slightly better in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The challenges faced by women in the region result from a combination of factors: the low number of women in government and law enforcement, women’s lack of financial independence, especially in rural areas, a distorted understanding of traditions across populations, and a mentality in society that often denies or covers up flagrant cases of injustice.   The law is written in blood: the case of Kazakhstan According to WPS experts, Kazakhstan has progressed further than its neighbors toward equality. Still, according to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, 69 women and seven children died in 2023 in domestic conflicts alone. It is believed that, on average, at least 80 women die every year at the hands of those they live with; every day, the police receive hundreds of calls, while thousands of women need the help of specialized protection and support centers. According to the Prosecutor General, last year 150 women sustained severe injuries and 200 moderate injuries in marital conflicts, with another 4,000 suffering minor bruises. This year, however, marked a turning point for Kazakhstani society – more and more women are recording videos with marks from beatings, posting the videos on social media, and calling on the police to punish their abusers. Even high-profile domestic abusers can now be exposed. The trigger for these changes was the trial of former Nazarbayev-era Minister of the National Economy, Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who beat his wife, Saltanat Nukenova, to death last November. Following a live-streamed trial, this May, Bishimbayev was sentenced to 24 years in prison for her murder. Even during the Bishimbayev trial, Karina Mamash, the wife of a Kazakh diplomat in the UAE, went public with allegations about systematic abuse, calling on the state to help. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urgently recalled her husband, Embassy Counselor Saken Mamash, who may be fired. Karina is now at home with her children while a criminal case has been opened against her husband. She has since reported threats from her husband's relatives. Also in May, Akmaral Umbetkalieva, a resident of Atyrau, alleged that her ex-husband, Rinat Ibragimov – the akim (mayor) of Makat District in Atyrau Region – had beaten her for eleven years and taken away their children. Ibragimov called the allegations slander. The month before, former Taldykorgan police chief, Marat Kushtybaev was sentenced to eleven years for raping a girl in his office in November 2023. Another headline from April was that a security guard at an Almaty bar who had been convicted of raping a girl at knifepoint would serve eight years in prison. The...

Reporter in Turkmenistan Freed After Four Years in Jail

Authorities in Turkmenistan have released a freelance reporter who was jailed for several years on a fraud conviction that media groups alleged was retaliation for his journalism. Nurgeldi Halykov, who has worked for the Turkmen.news website, was arrested in Ashgabat on July 13, 2020 and freed on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday. Halykov was detained the day after the Netherlands-based website published a photo that it received from him in which a World Health Organization delegation is seen at a local hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the committee. Turkmenistan strictly controls the media, making it hard to get information about what is going on in the Central Asian country. The government there did not report a single case of COVID-19, though there are widespread doubts about the government’s transparency regarding the impact of a virus that has killed millions of people worldwide. The photo of the WHO representatives was taken by an Ashgabat resident who saw them sitting by the pool of the Ashgabat Yildiz Hotel, Turkmen.news said. The resident posted the photo on Instagram and Halykov, “who had previously studied with this girl in the same school, saw it. He thought it necessary to send the photo to the editorial office of Turkmen.news,” the website reported. “The girl was identified from CCTV cameras. She and six of her friends, relaxing by the hotel pool, were called to the police. The police looked through all her photographs, including personal ones, restored previously deleted photographs, and reread all her correspondence with other people. Then they began to study contacts in the address book and her friends on Instagram,” the news outlet said. Halykov was detained and sentenced in September 2020 after being convicted of failing to repay a loan, according to Turkmen.news. It said a former close friend made the complaint about a $5,000 debt that Halykov allegedly owed. The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was glad that Halykov had been released and it urged the Turkmen authorities “to improve the country’s international reputation by liberalizing the media environment so that independent reporters do not have to work clandestinely or under fear of arrest.” Turkmenistan’s state news agency did not mention Halykov’s release in its report on Monday. The main news was the visit to Ashgabat of South Korean President, Yun Suk Yeol, and his talks on trade and other issues with Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov. Other prominent articles talked about the start of the grain harvest and the Turkmen president’s recent participation in a mass bicycle excursion in Ashgabat.

Story of a Statue: Turkmenistan Shapes National Identity

The giant bronze statue of a robed man holding a book stands on the southern outskirts of Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, and is visible from many parts of the city. Including the granite base, it is more than 80 meters high. The sculptor says the rising sun illuminates the structure at dawn, giving it a hallowed aura. Diplomats and other dignitaries recently assembled for the inauguration of the statue of Magtymguly Pyragy, a revered poet and philosopher who serves today as a state-sponsored symbol of national and cultural identity. Some carried bouquets of flowers as they walked up the steps toward the looming monolith. Later, there were fireworks, a multi-colored light show and a drone display in the sky that formed the image of a quill pen. Led by President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the ceremony on May 17 marked the 300th anniversary of the official birthday of Pyragy, who is little known outside Central Asia but is vital to a campaign of national cohesion in a country whose brand of personalized state control often seems opaque and eccentric to observers. Pyragy was born in the 18th century in what is today Iran, and is associated with Sufi spiritualism. He wrote about love, family and morality, and also laced his poetry with yearning for Turkmen solidarity at a time of conflict and fragmentation. Today, his image adorns postage stamps and banknotes in Turkmenistan. A theater carries his name. A symphony. A street. A university. People put his verse to songs at festivals. His lines form aphorisms in Turkmen, a Turkic language spoken in parts of Central Asia. Turkmenistan is of interest to foreign powers for its deep energy reserves, but this year its diplomats made an intense push in world capitals to get people interested in something else about the country: Magtymguly Pyragy. They promoted events about the poet in cities including Washington, Paris, Beijing and Seoul. The message was, as the state news agency put it, that Pyragy´s work is “an invaluable asset of all mankind.” Indeed, the park where the giant Pyragy statue stands in Ashgabat also contains much, much smaller statues of writers from other parts of the world, including William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Rabindranath Tagore. One commentator has even compared Pyragy to German philosopher Immanuel Kant, saying they were born around the same time and had similar ideas. Russian granite was transported in nearly 100 railway cars to Ashgabat for construction of the new Pyragy statue, according to contractor Alexander Petrov. The statue is among the more grandiose monuments in a capital studded with them. Sculptor Saragt Babayev noted that the statue shows Pyragy in a turban, in contrast to an older image of the poet that shows him wearing a peaked Astrakhan hat, which was made of sheep fur and had no religious significance. That image dates to the time when Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union and Moscow was cracking down on expressions of Islamic piety. “During the time when the...

Residents of Turkmenistan Urged Not to Disseminate What’s Happening in the Country

In the city of Turkmenbashi, local authorities, including the khakimlik (mayor's office), the National Security Ministry (NSM), the court, the police, and elders, are holding meetings with youth and cultural workers. At these meetings, they are warned not to disseminate information about events in the country, such as natural disasters and traffic accidents, on the internet or to journalists. The meetings are hosted mainly by elders who reprimand the youth. “They demanded not to share pictures and videos of someone asking for money for a sick child and not to write comments under posts about problems,” a cultural worker said during an anonymous conversation. Meeting participants claim that the elders said, “There are no countries without faults, and faults need to be hidden.” They also emphasized that freedom on the internet should not lead to the spread of negative information. Authorities stated that citizens who distributed videos about the Ashgabat floods have already been identified, and most were cultural workers. "Cultural workers are lighthearted, and all the videos and information leaking online are mostly what you're doing. All problems come either from singers or actors, and the people following them,” a cultural worker was quoted as saying by an NSM official. The elders and representatives of the khakimlik also urged parents to monitor how their children use the internet and what sites they visit and read. Participants in the meeting were required to use VPN programs approved by the authorities and only share positive photos, videos, and messages about the country online.