Net remittances sent by migrants back to Kyrgyzstan reached record levels at the end of 2023, according to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic (NBKR). The bank's data shows that the record was achieved mostly due to a decrease in the outflow of money from the country. Migrant workers transferred $2.7 billion to Kyrgyzstan in 2023. According to statistics maintained by the NBKR, this is 12%, or $380 million less than a year earlier. However, the outflow of money from Kyrgyzstan in 2023 amounted to only $561 million - half as much as in 2022. That put the net inflow of funds remitted back into the country at $2.145 billion -- an all-time record. At the beginning of 2024, the NBKR included in its statistics separate information on transfers made through bank cards and electronic wallets. According to the regulator, these methods of sending and receiving money to and from abroad are now actively used along with traditional money-transfer systems. The NBKR report says that in 2023, the region from which Kyrgyz people transferred the most money was Russia, with $2.531 billion in remittances. The remaining $200 million came from a combination of the United States, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries. Russia accounts for more than 90% of all remittances to Kyrgyzstan. The lion's share is comprised of migrant workers providing for their families at home. In 2021, remittances accounted for over 30% of the GDP, making Kyrgyzstan one of most remittance-based economy in the world. Approximately one-fifth of the Kyrgyz labor force works abroad, almost exclusively in Russia. It should be noted that remittances to Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries from the Russian Federation increased after the so-called anti-war emigration. According to the Russian media, the volume of remittances by individuals from Russia to CIS countries after the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine in 2022 increased 2.5 times to $24.5 billion. The money was mainly transferred to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia. However, in 2023 the volume of remittances decreased by 1.4%. Meanwhile, the leader among Central Asian countries in terms of remittances is Uzbekistan. Labor migrants working in different foreign countries (mainly Russia) transferred more than $16 billion to this country in 2023. In Tajikistan, according to statistics, $5.7 billion was transferred last year - which is almost half of the republic's GDP. The volume of remittances to Kazakhstan for the 2023 reporting period amounted to $670 million dollars, declining by more than half on the previous year. At the same time, Kazakhs withdrew three times more money from the country than they received from abroad in 2023.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov to reconsider Kyrgyzstan's draft law on foreign agents, which is currently under consideration in the parliament and has already been passed by the country's Supreme Council in a second reading. In his letter, Secretary Blinken says that this bill in its current form "jeopardizes the access of Kyrgyz citizens to vital services." According to the U.S. official, after the law is passed, Kyrgyz citizens may have problems with access to health care, education and more services provided through programs run by non-governmental organizations with the support of Washington and other foreign partners. "Your vibrant civil society has long been the strongest in the region and a key part of Kyrgyzstan's democracy. I am therefore writing to you to express my concern about the Kyrgyz parliament's draft law on foreign representatives, which, if passed, would impose onerous civil and criminal penalties on non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It jeopardizes one of your country's greatest assets," the U.S. Secretary of State wrote. According to Blinken, many Kyrgyz NGOs and foreign-funded NGOs are already thinking about stopping their activities in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Secretary of State urged the Kyrgyz president to weigh these concerns and discuss them with members of parliament (MPs). According to the bill being discussed by MPs, the concept of "foreign representative" will be introduced into law, and will place special responsibility under the law on non-profit (NPO) and non-governmental organizations. In particular, Western representatives aren't satisfied with the fact that the bill proposes introducing an article in the Kyrgyz Criminal Code on "creation of a non-profit organization that infringes on the personality and rights of citizens." Active participation in such organizations will be punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine of 100,000-200,000 soms ($1,100-$2,200). Moreover, the draft law introduces additional reporting obligations for foreign-funded non-profit organizations that engage in political activity in Kyrgyzstan. Other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, as well as representatives of EU, UK and other countries stated that they are not satisfied with the draft law. They also called on parliament and the president to reconsider the bill. "The introduction of onerous reporting requirements in the draft law is likely to prove crippling for small and medium-sized media organizations and create significant risks for media freedom and open debate on issues of public interest in the [Kyrgyz Republic]. It is particularly worrying that the amendments under consideration would impose almost complete state control over the right to free expression of civil society and media representatives," said Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The discussion about draft laws on NGOs and foreign agents has been going on in Kyrgyzstan for several years. Amendments and additions have been made to the draft law. Now the bill is close to final adoption and signing by the president. Speaking at the People's Kurultai last December, President Japarov said that more than...
KazTransOil JSC, Kazakhstan’s national oil pipeline operator, on January 26th said it will freeze the cost of transiting Russian oil to China until 2034. Until December 31st 2033 the cost of transporting Russian oil to China through the territory of Kazakhstan will amount to $15 per ton (excluding VAT), the company said. KazTransOil also said it has extended until December 31st 2033 its contract with Russia’s Rosneft oil company for the transportation of Russian oil through Kazakhstan to China. From 2014-2023, KazTransOil transported 91 million tons of Russian oil to China along the Atasu–Alashankou oil pipeline, which is part of the Kazakhstan-China main oil pipeline system and belongs to Kazakhstan-China Pipeline LLP, a joint venture of KazTransOil JSC (50%) and China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Company Ltd (50%). The design capacity of the Atasu–Alashankou pipeline is 20 million tons of oil per year. Russia has been seeking to increase its oil exports to China after western sanctions were imposed on its exports over its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian military instructors from the Central Military District of the Russian 201st base in Tajikistan will train 1,000 specialists in the Armed Forces of Tajikistan in 2024, the Russian Ministry of Defense has stated. Training will take place in the Lyaur and Sambuli bases in 14 military specialties: driver mechanic and gunner operator of the T-72 tank, crew commander of the BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system, gunner of the 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled artillery gun, gunner of the BTR-80 armored personnel carrier, gunner-operator of the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle, reconnaissance officer, grenade launcher, and others, the ministry said. The 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan is Russia’s largest military facility outside its borders. Located in two cities, Dushanbe and Bokhtar, the bases include motorized rifle, tank, artillery, reconnaissance, and air defense units. Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier stated during President Rahmon’s visit to Moscow in November 2023 that Russia and Tajikistan would continue deepening cooperation in defense, military-technical, counterterrorism and antidrug trafficking operations. “We will continue working to maintain peace and stability in Central Asia. We intend to continue actively using the potential of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan,” Putin said at the time.
KazTransOil JSC, an oil pipeline company of Kazakhstan that provides services for the transportation of oil to the domestic market, for transit and for export, has stated that starting from January 1st, 2024, the tariff for the pumping of Russian oil for transit through the territory of Kazakhstan along the Kazakhstani section of the Tuymazy-Omsk-Novosibirsk-2 (TON-2) main pipeline is to be increased. The tariff will now be $11.28 a ton per 1,000 km, the Kazakh company said. The main oil pipeline TON-2 passes through the territory of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. The 186.25 km long Kazakh section of the TON-2 oil trunk pipeline supplies oil to the Pavlodar Petrochemical Plant (northern Kazakhstan) and transits Russian oil to the People's Republic of China and Uzbekistan.
A meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council was held in St Petersburg on December 25th. The meeting was attended by leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member countries - the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Japarov, and President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Opening the meeting, Russian President Putin said that the Eurasian Economic Union will soon be ten years old, and over this period, the mutual trade between its member countries has almost doubled and the aggregate GDP of the EEU countries has grown from US$1.6 trillion to US$2.5 trillion. “We have created deep common markets for goods, services, capital, and workforce, which are operating in line with agreed-upon rules. The main point is that the Eurasian Union has become an authoritative international integration association with an efficient structure and a good foundation,” he said. Putin added that the work on aligning integration processes within the EEU and China's Belt and Road Initiative is also yielding results. The Council’s meeting adopted the declaration “Eurasian Economic Path,” which is aligned with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.