Tag Archives: Turkmenistan

Worried about the Taliban, Tajikistan mobilise entire army

DUSHANBE/JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Tajikistan mobilised its entire army and put it on “high alert” for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as worries intensified about a move north into Central Asia by the Taliban.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan also mobilised their armies and Russia said that it was sending extra military hardware to its base in Tajikistan. 

Media quoted a military source in Tajikistan as saying that the Taliban now controls around 80% of Afghanistan’s border with Tajikistan. It has pounced on Afghan government military weakness since the US started to withdraw its forces in May.

In a statement, the Tajik ministry of defence said that it had ordered the mobilisation of all its 100,000 regular soldiers, and another 130,000 reservists. Inspecting some of these forces in Dushanbe, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said that the Tajik military had to be ready to defend its borders.

“The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, especially in the northern regions bordering with our country, remains very difficult and uncertain. The situation is getting more complicated day by day and even hour after hour,” he said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Afghan government soldiers fled across the Uzbek and Tajik borders to escape the Taliban which now controls most of the northern section of Afghanistan, including the important border crossings into Central Asia, for the first time.

Also in Tajikistan, media said that Russia was sending an extra 17 BMP-2s to its base. The BMP-2 is a cross between an armoured personnel carrier and a tank that Russian infantry favour when deploying into battle. The Kommersant newspaper also reported that Russia had offered the US use of its base as a listening post to spy on the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

Elsewhere in Central Asia, news leaked out of Turkmenistan of a road accident that killed 30 soldiers when, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a military convoy collided with a truck and another vehicle. The RFE/RL source said the scene was “horrible”.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Turkmen police kidnap doctor, says HRW

JULY 21 2021 (The Bulletin) — Human Rights Watch, the New York-based lobby group, accused the Turkmen government of the illegal abduction of  Kursanai Ismatullayeva, a doctor, a few days after the European Parliament discussed her case for wrongful dismissal from a clinic near Ashgabat in 2017. Philippe Dam, the HRW Central Asia director, said that Turkmenistan had a “horrific” record of abducting people who tried to expose government corruption.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Turkmenistan plans to change status of cotton processing plants

JULY 20 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkmenistan is planning to change the status of its cotton processing plants in Mary, one of its bigger cities, and elsewhere in the country to open joint-stock companies, media reported. It is not clear why the Turkmen government wants to make the change, although the Trend news agency said that it was an important step towards modernising the plants and attracting investment.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

World Bank drops dodgy Turkmen economic data from global report

JUNE 15 2021 (The Bulletin) — The World Bank called out the Turkmen government for publishing misleading economic data and dropped its global economic outlook report.

This is the second time that the World Bank has dropped Turkmenistan from its bi-annual Global Economic Prospects report, and its damaging assessment of the quality of Turkmen data will reinforce Turkmenistan’s reputation as a difficult place to do business.

The only other country excluded from the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report, published this month, was Venezuela.

“Due to lack of reliable data of adequate quality, the World Bank is currently not publishing economic output, income, or growth data for Turkmenistan and República Bolivariana de Venezuela,” it wrote in a footnote. “Turkmenistan and República Bolivariana de Venezuela are excluded from cross-country macroeconomic aggregates.”

The footnote is identical to one included in the January edition of the report. 

Turkmen opposition groups have said the country is suffering an economic crisis, with inflation spiralling out of control and food queues lengthening. Not that you would realise this from the official data which paints a rosy picture.

In 2020, though, the IMF refused to include Turkmenistan in its Growth Outlook report because of poor data quality. Most economists have also predicted Turkmen GDP growth to be around 1% this year, compared to a Turkmen government estimate of 5.9%.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Berdymukhamedov celebrates paying off China debt

JUNE 11 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkmenistan has paid off its debt to China, Turkmen Pres. Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said at a government meeting. Mr Berdymukhamedov said that by paying off the Chinese loans, Turkmenistan had increased its independence. China has been criticised for forcing loan recipients into debt traps. Turkmenistan took the loan, reportedly around $8b, from China to pay for the construction of its Galkynysh gas project and for a gas pipeline running to China.

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— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Berdymukhamedov wants to sell more ice cream to China

JUNE 5 2021 (The Bulletin) — Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered his government to increase ice cream exports to China. Turkmen state-owned media reported Mr Berdymukhamedov as saying that Turkmenistan had exported 400 tonnes of ice cream to China in 2020.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Lukoil expects to be named Dostluk operator

JUNE 3 2021 (The Bulletin) — Lukoil expects to be named as the operator of the Caspian Sea’s Dostluk oil field which Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan said earlier this year that they want to exploit, the TASS news agency quoted Lukoil chairman Vagit Alekperov as saying. Dostluk sits midway between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and had been the focus of a long-running row between the two countries.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Cycling world championships moved from Ashgabat

JUNE 3 2021 (The Bulletin) — The Switzerland-based UCI, cycling’s governing body, moved its 2021 World Championship from Ashgabat to Glasgow. It didn’t give a reason for the change of venue but UCI has been under pressure to scrap the Ashgabat event because of the increasingly eccentric behaviour of Turkmen leader Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov who denies that there has ever been a case of the coronavirus inside Turkmenistan. Mr Berdymukhamedov considered hosting the cycling championships as a boost to his prestige.

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— This story was published in issue 487 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 9 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Turkmenistan takes batch of Chinese coronavirus vaccine

MARCH 9 (The Bulletin) — Despite not acknowledging a single case of the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, Turkmenistan has accepted batches of a China-made vaccine. It has already approved the use of the Sputnik-V Russia-made vaccine. Most Central Asian countries have accepted supplies of both the Russian and Chinese vaccines, reflecting the geopolitical struggle over the region.

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Indian Army trains Turkmen special forces

MARCH 4 2021 (The Bulletin) — The Indian Army has started training Turkmen special forces, Indian media reported, in what appears to be an intensifying of the budding relationship between India and Turkmenistan. India has been trying for the past decade to catch up with its main rival China and improve links and influence in Central Asia. Turkmenistan wants to export gas to India.

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— This story was published in issue 474 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 5 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021