• KGS/USD = 0.01119 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09136 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01119 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09136 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Labor Migration – Making Money At Any Cost

The number of labor migrants from Tajikistan continues to grow steadily, officially reaching the highest figure seen in the last decade. According to the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Employment, in 2023, 652,014 people left the country to work abroad. Despite the fact that the Government of Tajikistan claims the poverty level in the country has decreased (the poverty threshold is not specified), in reality a huge swathe of the male population is working abroad in an attempt to feed their families. Up to 40% of households in Tajikistan have at least one member working abroad. Remittances from migrants therefore account for a significant part of the country's GDP, but the authorities claim they cannot say exactly how much is sent by migrants because these remittances are funneled through different channels (accounts, banks, cards or through compatriots). However, various international organizations have stated that the figure stands in the realm of billions of dollars. Thus, according to the World Bank-KNOMAD, migrants' remittances to Tajikistan in 2022 amounted to 5.346 billion dollars (39.6% of the country's GDP). This makes Tajikistan one of the most remittance-based economies in the world, which serves as both a boon and a curse for the authorities, for whilst this mass migration removes those often viewed as unemployed malcontents, it’s also a source of embarrassment. Against the background of military conflict, the number of Tajik workers in Russia has slightly decreased, from 775,000 in 2022 to just over 652,000 in 2023, according to the Minister of Labor, Migration and Employment, Gulnora Hasanzoda. However, official statistics from the Russian migration services, number citizens of Tajikistan who are labor migrants in Russia at 1.5 million, whilst several hundred thousand more have obtained Russian citizenship. Renowned for being humiliated and extorted by border guards, these ex-pats are easy targets for the Russian police and are the subject of attacks by Neo-fascist groups. Often living in dormitory blocks overseen by gang-masters on the plains of Siberia, many die on the job, but they couldn’t survive back home. The poorest of the post-Soviet Republics, in September 2020, the World Food Program estimated that 47% of people in Tajikistan live on less than $1.33 a day, whilst an estimated 30% suffer from malnutrition. A relatively new trend of leaving the country to work abroad has also been observed in Turkmenistan, where those serving in the police and in military units rank among the highest in terms of expats. Though salaries in these professions are considered quite high by Turkmen standards - police officers receive $142-157 and servicemen $160-185 a month, it is possible to earn several times more on a construction site, as a waiter or a cab driver in Russia. Thus, in April 2023 alone, around 200 officers from the Department of Internal Affairs of the Dashoguz Province of Turkmenistan submitted their resignations with the aim of going to work in Russia. Konye-Urgench Bazaar, Dashoguz Province, Turkmenistan. Photo: TCA. Against the background of aggravated labor migration, the authorities of Turkmenistan continue to...

Turkmenistan Again Takes First Place as World Leader of VPN Searches

The digital technologies information platform Techopedia has published data about virtual private network (VPN) usage around the world. At the end of 2023, 77% of users used a VPN for work, and 51% did so to maintain privacy on public Wi-Fi networks. Forty-four percent did so to protect their anonymity online, while 37% used a VPN for secure communications, and 20% used it to hide their activities from authorities. The countries whose authorities restrict human rights and freedom of speech in one way or another are in the lead in terms of online searches for VPNs. The ranking of countries where VPN use was most popular is based on Google Trends data and Freedom House's 2023 Freedom on the Net report. Internet censorship in illiberal countries is widespread, often used as a way of suppressing opposition views, or creating a certain image of the country's authorities. Consequently, the use of VPNs in some countries is limited or even totally illegal. The outright leader in the world in terms of VPN searches in 2023, as it was in 2022, was Turkmenistan, where VPNs are illegal. Turkmenistan has only one authorized internet provider, Turkmentelecom, which controls the entire flow of information and blocks content undesirable to the authorities. In addition, it has the lowest Internet penetration rate in Central Asia (38.2%), one of the lowest connectivity speeds, and one of the highest prices. Turkmenistan is one of the five countries -- along with Oman, North Korea, Belarus and Iraq -- where the use of a VPN is prohibited. When buying a new or used phone in Turkmenistan, buyers immediately ask staff to install a VPN for them, which can be done for about $5. However, under such restrictions, VPNs never work for long -- only until the next blocking by the authorities.

Raids Target Illegal Medicine Sales in Remote Turkmen Villages

Law enforcement agencies in the Mary Velayat district have initiated crackdowns on citizens engaging in the unauthorized sales of medicines,Radio Azatlyk has reported. While these actions target what authorities deem to be illegal, individuals conducting the trades in remote areas argue that they're simply filling a crucial gap in essential healthcare access. Sellers in remote villages assert that they offer commonly used medications like analgin and paracetamol, which, to their understanding, don't require a doctor's prescription. These traders claim to have procured these medicines from city pharmacies and to simply be reselling them at a slight markup in areas lacking facilities. "Our village lacks pharmacies. Ambulance services have substantial delays, sometimes failing to arrive. People turn to us for antipyretics when they're stricken with a fever at night. We offer a service that pharmacies don't provide. We aren't breaking any laws," emphasized one villager engaged in medicine sales. Another trader echoed this sentiment, stating, "We're simply providing a service to our community." Moreover, these merchants assert that they inform local district police officers about their activities, believing this communication suffices as adherence to the regulations. However, plainclothes police officers have been actively involved in operations targeting this unauthorized trade. During these raids, authorities confiscate medicines and detain the traders, issuing substantial fines. The scenario underscores a wider issue of inadequate medical facilities and pharmacy access in rural areas. Rural residents complain about delayed and inadequate ambulance services, exacerbating their struggle to access essential medical aid. Shortages of crucial medicines in both rural and urban pharmacies have been recurrent issues in Turkmenistan. Inconsistent availability of medications was reported earlier this year, highlighting a systemic challenge. Additionally, instances of medical professionals capitalizing on pharmaceutical shortages for extra profits surfaced in December of the previous year. Trading medicines in Turkmenistan requires the possession of a valid license, and according to local legislation, sales should be conducted exclusively by individuals with a secondary or higher pharmaceutical education. This tension between unauthorized sales and healthcare gaps in remote regions presents a complex challenge in need of resolution.

OCCRP Reports on Corruption Linked to Berdimuhamedov family

The Center for Aesthetic Medicine in Ashgabat was sold at a huge discount to a company called Ashgabat International Aesthetic Medicine Center (AIATC), associated with the Berdimuhamedov family, the Center for Research on Corruption and Organized Crime (OCCRP) has reported together with the publications Turkmen.news and Gundogar. According to investigators, the Government of Turkmenistan built the center at a cost of U$51 million dollars; its official opening took place in October 2020. However, two days before the opening, the President of Turkmenistan at that time, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, signed a decree authorizing the privatization of the center without a tender. As a result, the center was sold for $ 6.5 million less than the state spent on its construction. Journalists believe that the real discount the buyers received may be much higher taking into account the unofficial exchange rate. (In 2020, the unofficial exchange rate was 23.6 manat per dollar, whilst the official rate was 3.5.). AIATC belongs to a group of seven legal entities, investigators learned from a data leak about members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan. Two of these seven companies are related to the Berdymukhamedov family. Despite the fact that the Center for Aesthetic Medicine was bought by AIATC, it is managed by the Center for Beauty and Aesthetics, the director of which is Doctor Gulya Annanepesova, who is the head of both the selling and the buying enterprise. Annanepesova has allegedly accompanied Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on official trips at least twice. In March 2017, they traveled to Qatar, and in November 2019 to Italy. Annanepesova is listed as a cosmetologist and a doctor in the lists of participants of the delegations. In 2016, Annanepesova was awarded a medal in honor of the 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. At that time, she worked at the state Center for Internal Medicine, and among her colleagues was one of the younger sisters of the president, who worked as a nurse. A year after the opening of the Center for Aesthetic Medicine, Berdimuhamedov awarded Annanepesova with a commemorative badge for services to the development of health care in Turkmenistan. She was listed in the list of awardees as the director of the Center for Beauty and Aesthetics. Annanepesova, according to the sources of the publications, is married to Maksat Geldiev, who worked in the Ministry of National Security and played an important role in the introduction of internet censorship in Turkmenistan. The Center for Aesthetic Medicine offers a wide range of cosmetology and wellness treatments, from weight loss programs to hairdressing services. The journalists drew attention to the fact that all these services do not coincide with the initiatives of the authorities, which prohibit, among other things, bright make-up and plastic surgery. The imposition of restrictions on women intensified shortly after Serdar Berdimuhamedov succeeded his father as president of the country in March 2022.

Taliban and Turkmenistan Meet to Discuss Energy Collaboration

The acting head of the Ministry of Water and Energy of the Taliban, Abdul-Latif Mansur, recently held a meeting with Murad Artykov, the head of the Department of International Electric Power Projects in the Turkmen Ministry of Energy. This marked the second official dialogue between the two leaders. The TAP Project A significant part of their discussion revolved around the TAP project, also known as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Interconnection Project. This proposed initiative aims to connect the power grids of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, strengthening power trade between these countries. It is seen as a crucial step towards enhancing energy security, promoting regional cooperation, and supporting economic development within the region. The TAP project is a part of broader efforts to develop energy infrastructure and promote connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia. The Taliban representatives reportedly expressed readiness to launch the project and are now awaiting the participation of the remaining stakeholders. The 500 kV Power Transmission Line Another key point of discussion was the development of the 500 kV power transmission line "Turkmenistan - Shibargan - Dashti-Alvan - Argandi". This line is intended to facilitate the import of electricity from Turkmenistan to meet the growing energy demands in Afghanistan. The Taliban urged Ashgabat to intensify efforts towards this goal. The "Nur al-Jihad" Substation The meeting also covered the "Nur al-Jihad" substation, a project nearing completion that will provide electricity to the Afghan provinces of Herat and Farah. This substation is a collaboration between Afghanistan's power utility company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), and Turkmenistan. The project will increase the capacity of the Noor Al-Jihad substation from 110 kilovolts to 220 kilovolts. The substation is located in Herat province. Artykov outlined the goals of the visit, which included extending contracts for the supply of Turkmen energy and expanding energy cooperation. Implications Despite the Taliban being under UN sanctions for terrorist activities, discussions between Turkmenistan and the Taliban regarding energy and infrastructure projects have been ongoing, as reported by various sources including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Caspian News. Turkmenistan already exports electricity to areas in northern Afghanistan, some of which are under Taliban control. These talks also involved the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which the Taliban has shown support for.

Over 300 Individuals, Including Six Foreign Nationals, Pardoned in Turkmenistan on International Neutrality Day

On the occasion of International Neutrality Day, Turkmenistan's President, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, granted pardons to a total of 308 individuals, including six foreign nationals. This news comes after an extended meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on December 11, 2023, involving heads of diplomatic missions, consular offices, and representative offices of Turkmenistan at international organizations. The meeting focused on important issues concerning Turkmenistan's foreign policy in the international arena. The pardoning of these individuals is part of the upcoming holiday celebrations in the country. The Chairman of the Commission, together with the heads of law enforcement agencies, has been tasked to ensure the swift release of these convicts and their return to their families. Regional leaders, including Hyakims of velayats, etraps, and cities, have been instructed to take necessary measures to provide employment opportunities for the pardoned individuals. President Berdimuhamedov expressed his wishes for the pardoned citizens to contribute positively to the large-scale activities being carried out in Turkmenistan and to serve the Fatherland conscientiously.

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