Had a busy weekend so a little short, check out what I wrote this week:
- A pair of articles on (lack of) justice in Uzbekistan: first Azam Farmonov, who served 9 years on extortion charges (which Amnesty International & others say were bogus to begin with), was given 5 more years just when he was to be released. Then news emerged that Elena Urlaeva, one of the few human rights activists still in Uzbekistan trying to make a positive change, had been detained over the weekend–she was beaten, sedated, and violated. Urlaeva was taking pictures of people forced to labor in the Uzbek cotton fields.
- What does rule of law in Central Asia look like? More like rule by law–heavy on the law and order and light on the freedoms.
- A State department official speaking at the Washington International Business Council didn’t mention the EEU at all, noted how Russia’s economic downturn negatively affects the stans, and complimented China for its regional engagement.
- The Baikonur Cosmodrome turned 60–the site of the Sputnik launch is presently responsible for sending up all manned missions to the ISS.
- Kazakhstan could begin accumulating low-enriched uranium (LEU) at a recently approved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) bank as early as 2017.
- Tajik and Chinese special operations forces are drilling in the mountains outside Dushanbe this weekend.
- The Kyrgyz foreign agents bill passed its first reading, two more and a presidential signature to go–NGOs & civil society is getting nervous.
- Russian press is notorious for a reason: headlines sometimes say things that are so far from reality–like this week’s “Egypt to Join Russia-Led Eurasian Economic Union in 2016.” (hint: they aren’t)
- And my recommended reads, plus quote of the week:
“You have to look at the glass half full rather than half empty,” I’ve been hearing in conference after conference for a decade and a half now. But if you need a water-level-based analogy for the state of human rights in the region, the dried-up Aral Sea is a more fitting one.