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Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – from July 2 to July 8, 2022

Central Asia Watch Team : Amandine Paillette, Sophie Marc, Aliya Yechshanova et Denis Lavaud

07/02/2022 : Uzbek prosecutor opens investigation for «attack on the constitutional order of the country» – Amandine Paillette –

On 2 July, anti-government protests began in Nukus, the capital of the Karakalpakistan region in northwest Uzbekistan. The state of emergency was declared for a month in the region, and protests occurred. This was in response to a proposed constitutional reform aimed at reducing the autonomy of the Karakalpakistan region. The unrest began on 1 July and reached its peak on 2 July, resulting in numerous victims. Many questions remain unanswered about the course of the protests, which were partly due to a cut-off of mobile internet connections in the region decided a few days earlier, on 27 June, by the Uzbek government. This was the moment when rumors about the suspension of Karakalpakstan’s autonomy began to be spread on social networks throughout the country. In a short time, the fixed internet also stopped working in the region. 

As a result, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Uzbek president, acknowledged on 2 July that there had been “victims” both civilian and police, and promised to withdraw the contested amendments from the reform. The country’s national guard reported that 243 people were injured in the clashes. On 4 July, the representative of the Uzbek prosecutor’s office, Abror Mamatov, organized a briefing on the unrest in the region. He announced that «18 people [had] died of their injuries during the mass unrest in Nukus. As a result, an investigation for «attack on the constitutional order of the country» was opened. 

07/07/2022 : Russian court orders one-month suspension of oil flows from Kazakhstan – Sophie Marc – 

The Primorsky district court in the southern Russian city of Novorossiysk ruled on 5 July that the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, the company that operates the pipeline that allows Kazakhstan to export two-thirds of its oil, was committing environmental violations, resulting in the suspension of the pipeline’s operations for one month. 

This is the third time the pipeline has been shut down by Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine, the first two times officially for technical reasons. Stopping its oil exports for a month is likely to be a major blow to the Kazakh economy, with potential losses estimated at around $500 million. 

Experts interpret the decision as pressure from Moscow, as the Kazakh president has offered to help the European Union stabilise global and European energy markets, especially since member countries agreed to cut their reliance on Russian oil imports by 90% by the end of the year. 

Kazakhstan has said it is considering alternative routes for exporting its oil, including through the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan or Iran. 

07/08/2022: A meeting of the Azerbaijani-Kazakh intergovernmental commission on cooperation is being held in Nur-Sultan – Aliya Yechshanova-

The delegation of Azerbaijan, headed by Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov, took part in the 18th meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, held in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.   Kazakh side was headed by Minister of Trade and Integration Bakhyt Sultanov.

During the meeting, an offer was made by Azerbaijan for investors from Kazakhstan to take full advantage of the Alyat Free Economic Zone, as well as to take part in projects to restore the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan also expressed its readiness to increase cooperation with Kazakhstan within the development of the Trans-Caspian Middle Corridor «East-West».

The session reviewed the results of the work done since the previous meeting of the Commission in such areas as economy, transport and logistics, energy, agriculture, space and IT technologies, food security, education and health.

A protocol was signed following the 18th meeting of the Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. The next meeting of the Commission will be held in Baku in 2023.

07/08/2022: Kyrgyzstan and Russia set up mutual air defense agreements – Denis Lavaud –

On July 8, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov reached an agreement with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the establishment of a mutual air defense system.

It was at Russia’s request that the respective heads of government of the two countries and their foreign ministers met.

The agreements, intended to improve the security of airspace in the region, are still being negotiated between the two parties, but they already plan for Kyrgyzstan to cede to Russia a territory of 5 hectares necessary for the deployment of its troops. This project between Kyrgyzstan and Russia nevertheless remains, according to the project, an integral part of the unified air defense system of the CIS countries.

07/08/2022: Turkmenistan signs a major contract for the purchase of rebars with the Russian company «Novostal» – Denis Lavaud –

On July 8, the state enterprise «Türkmendemirönümleri” in agreement with the cabinet of President Serdar Berdymukhamedov and the Ministry of Industry and Construction signed a contract with the Metallurgical company «Novostal-M», for the purchase of metal fittings.

The decision was taken «in order to complete in due time the construction of large industrial and social buildings and structures underway in the country, whose commissioning is scheduled for 2022, as well as to ensure the quality of implementation of the installations on time”, declared the spokesperson of the turkmen presidency.

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