Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – from October 15 to October 21, 2022

Central Asia geopolitical watch team : Jérémie Patot, Aliya Yechshanova, Tristan Jarraud, Sophie Marc, Paul Dza

10/15/2022: Tajik nationals involved in a deadly shooting at a military training centre in Russia – Paul Dza –

On 15 October, the Russian Ministry of Defence said that “two citizens of a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States” had opened fire at a military training ground in the Belgorod region, killing 11 servicemen and wounding 15 others. “During a firearms training session with individuals who voluntarily expressed a desire to participate in (the war), the terrorists opened fire on the unit’s personnel,” RIA quoted a Russian Defense Ministry statement as saying.

According to RFE/RL, the Tajik authorities have opened an investigation following numerous reports in the media and on social networks that Tajik nationals were involved in the event, which the Russian authorities described as a “terrorist attack. Relatives of a 24-year-old Tajik man said that Russian authorities had identified him as one of the men who opened fire. For its part, the press office of the Tajikistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Radio Ozodi on 17 October: “The Tajik embassy in Moscow is trying to determine the involvement of our citizens in the incident.

10/15/2022 — During the speech of Astana, Emomali tests Vladimir Putin’s authority – Jérémie Patot – 

On October 14 in Astana, “We want respect. Nothing else, respect ” are the words used during Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon’s speech at the ” Central Asia + Russia ” summit which was held for the first time.

This unexpected and unusual speech illustrates the new geopolitical and diplomatic position of the Central Asian republics since the war in Ukraine. Emomali Rakhmon complained that during the Soviet era, the small countries of Central Asia did not receive enough attention and were exploited only for their raw materials (like cotton and milk) and that this Soviet logic continues; while recalling that Tajikistan always pays homage to the interests of its main strategic partner, underlines Asia-Plus.

This speech illustrates the general dissatisfaction of the countries of Central Asia which are very economically dependent on Russia and which suffer the consequences of an unchosen war.

10/17/2022: Autonomous Internet: Turkmenistan has blocked about a third of all IP addresses in the world – Aliya Yechshanova – 

Internet blocking has been tightened once again in Turkmenistan. Turkmen News notes that there are currently about 1.2 billion IP addresses blocked in the country. This represents almost a third of all existing in the world (3.7 billion). Thus, the authorities of the republic want to make an autonomous national Internet, that is – isolated from the whole world. 

At a recent meeting of the Government, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov announced the creation of an autonomous National Digital Network. The relevant plan to isolate the Internet is contained in the new classified State Program for Cyber Security of the Country. No country in the world has such a network that would not be connected to the global Internet, except North Korea. Even China’s Internet space, which is quite heavily censored, still cannot be called self-contained.  The authorities also plan to intensify the training of specialists, hold thematic conversations with citizens and even competitions on Internet security.

Internet users in Turkmenistan do not have access to VPN services. And if a new VPN service appears, the intelligence agencies immediately block access to the entire network. However, users do not have access to all the world’s news media and popular messengers except the outdated ICQ. Residents of Turkmenistan and the local small business massively switch to the outdated Russian messenger ICQ. 

According to the article on  the peak of popularity of «ICQ» occurred in 2000 years. At that time it belonged to the American company AOL. In 2010, the service, already beginning to lose popularity, acquired Russian investment fund Digital Sky Technologies. After the reorganisation, ICQ became part of VK. In 2020, a new version of ICQ was released, but even in Russia, WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram remained the most popular messengers. Few people know that ICQ still exists.

During the six months of 2022, Turkmenistan lost $29 million to a deliberate blackout, reported by Top10VPN. Thus, we can make sure that blocking the Internet not only violates freedom of speech, but also costs the budget a lot of money.

According to the report on the speed of broadband access in the world in 2022, Turkmenistan with the Internet speed of 0.77 megabits per second (Mbit / s) was the slowest of all 220 surveyed countries, It took just over 14 hours and 42 minutes to download a 5 gigabyte film file.

10/19/2022 : Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan accuse each other of destabilising the border, Kyrgyz president asks for Putin’s mediation – Sophie Marc –

Despite a ceasefire concluded on 16 September to put an end to the clashes that cost the lives of a hundred people, tensions continue between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the former accusing the latter of destabilising the border by positioning heavy weapons in border towns. Kyrgyzstan accuses its neighbour of having violated several Tajik airspaces with the help of drones, notably near the town of Isfara, near Batken.

According to an article in Le Figaro, the Kyrgyz Defence Minister, General Baktybek Bekbolotov, declared that “there will be no peace until an arbitrator comes between us, for example the CSTO“, to ensure a “ceasefire” and the “withdrawal of heavy weapons from the border“. According to General Bekbolotov, peace between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is impossible at the moment “because the Kyrgyz have their truth and the Tajiks have theirs“.

According to an article in Eurasianet, the Kyrgyz president has appealed to Vladimir Putin to help solve the problems on the border. Marat Imankulov, secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council said state radio Birintchi that Russia should get involved because the border dispute is said to have arisen because the issue had not been settled when the two Central Asian countries were part of the Soviet Union. He also told that: “Russia is the successor state of the Soviet Union, the archival documents and maps are in Moscow. » 

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