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Tajikistan: COVID-19 outbreak offers cover for fresh assault on free press
It’s open season on journalists in Tajikistan and officials aren’t shy about blaming the victims.
Azerbaijan imposes second weekend lockdown amid anti-police outrage
The authorities have indicated some sensitivity to the public mood, announcing that they are investigating evidence of excessive use of force.
Kazakhstan changes methodology, lowers COVID count
The government has altered how it tallies infections and deaths to favor rosier statistics.
Kazakhstan: New study uses COVID-19 lockdown to isolate causes of air pollution
Pollution fell along with traffic during quarantine, but airborne levels of several toxic chemicals rose far above WHO limits.
Georgia offers Armenia help to fight COVID-19
The neighborly gesture comes after the two countries sparred over their respective responses to the pandemic.
Despite stimulus efforts, many Armenian workers fall through the cracks
In several cases, the employers themselves have been the ones thwarting their workers from getting stimulus money.
Yerevan extended the state of emergency on June 12 through July 13, OC Media reported.
Georgia on June 11 announced plans to send medical aid to neighboring Armenia to help it cope with the coronavirus crisis, as Yerevan continues to struggle with the worst outbreak in the region. In addition, Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control offered to test Armenian citizens for the coronavirus at its U.S.-built Lugar Lab in Tbilisi, or to send Armenia 10,000 PCR tests, Interpress reported on June 11.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan fired top security officials on June 9 a day after armed forces chief Artak Davtyan hosted a large wedding party for his son in violation of the state of emergency, reported OC Media. Pashinyan has vowed to name and shame those who ignore lockdown restrictions.
- Funeral services remain a major source of virus dissemination, Prime Minister Pashinyan said in comments reported by EVN on June 9. He stressed the importance of organizing weddings and funerals in accordance with emergency regulations.
- A week after announcing they had tested positive for COVID-19 but were asymptomatic, Pashinyan said he and his family have fully recovered and tested negative, reported public radio on June 8.
- Pashinyan announced on June 3 that Armenia had run out of open hospital beds, while the same day brought the highest number of new cases in the country so far. In response to the dire epidemiological situation, the government has extended mask requirements to all public spaces, reported OC Media on June 4. Previously, masks were only required in closed spaces, such as public transport and shops.
- Schools closed. Shops and restaurants reopened on May 18.
- Lithuania is sending a medical team to Armenia to help with COVID-19 efforts, reported Radio Armenia on June 10.
- Hospitals added 350 new beds, the health minister said on June 8. Two days earlier, a shortage had left 200 people in need of immediate medical care waiting to be hospitalized. Two patients in critical condition who were unable to access ICU beds died. A return to total lockdown was considered by the state and rejected, due to economic fallout and expectations that another quarantine would be widely violated.
- Work at a garment factory was put on hold for 14 days after 115 workers became infected with the coronavirus, reported Radio Azatutyun on June 5.
- According to RFE/RL's Armenian service, few people are following restrictions and mask rules, motivated by a desire for fresh air.
- The number of emergency calls for domestic violence during the pandemic are higher than during the same period in 2019, reported EVN on June 1, while the number of criminal proceedings initiated from the calls has decreased.
- Someone is leaking the names of COVID-19 victims on Facebook, reported EVN on June 2. The spokesperson for the Health Ministry confirmed that the names of the dead are accurate, and that law enforcement will attempt to locate the source of the leak, which she called “a breach of human rights.”
- Chartered flights between Krasnodar and Yerevan will resume on June 10, public radio reported on June 8. Those who arrive in Armenia are required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period.
- The government on June 4 approved a proposal by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to expand the list of sectors wherein workers may receive state benefits during the pandemic, EVN reported on June 4.
Cities will again be under lockdown between June 14 and 16, with very few people allowed to venture outside their homes. The country has been gripped by a public backlash against law enforcement after police cracked down harshly on violators of the previous weekend lockdown. Angry citizens are writing letters to President Ilham Aliyev, requesting a cancellation of the lockdown, Jam News reported on June 10.
- During a strict weekend quarantine in Baku on June 6 and 7, residents were not allowed to leave their homes, even to take out the trash, walk their dogs, or buy medications. Several violators were arrested. Video of police arresting one man outside his apartment complex on June 7 shows garbage raining down as they force the man into a police vehicle. The next morning police in riot gear arrested 11 more people from the building, reported Haqqin, citing the Interior Ministry. The National Council of Democratic Forces, an opposition movement, condemned the arrests and demanded an apology from the Interior Ministry, reported Turan on June 9.
- Several dozen of the hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens stranded on the Russia-Azerbaijan border in Dagestan have begun a hunger strike to protest unsanitary living conditions, reported Jam News on June 9. While Azerbaijan is taking in about 100 members of the group at a time, including 130 on June 9, at least 500 remain.
- The disease has begun to spread rapidly following the May 18 lifting of the previous regime.
- Final exams for some students will be postponed to September, reported Trend on June 5.
- Starting June 3, police began to fine citizens appearing in public without masks. The oncoming summer heat has made people reluctant to comply with mask regulations, Jam News reported, and some have begun to keep masks at hand nearby, only to don when they catch sight of police.
- Three members of the opposition Popular Front Party were each arrested a second time during since the pandemic began for “quarantine violations,” OC Media reported on June 1.
- Schools and most stores closed. Traffic between regions banned; parks closed. Borders closed.
- The government ended some lockdown measures on May 18, including the requirement that anyone wishing to go outside must first notify police. People over age 65 have been allowed outside their homes for the first time since March 24. Borders remain closed. Inter-city transportation and most large gatherings will remain banned. Restaurants will be allowed to reopen with a limited number of patrons.
- Nineteen members of the Presidential Administration have tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Echo Kavkaza on June 10.
- The prime minister of rival Armenia, who announced he had contracted COVID-19 on June 1, is faking his illness to avoid having to travel to Moscow for a military parade later this month, claimed a Baku-based political analyst without evidence in a June 2 commentary published by a prominent Azerbaijani media outlet.
A student was arrested in Baku for protesting with a group of his classmates in front of the Ministry of Education, reported Jam News on June 2. Others received fines. The students were seeking to have their tuition payments for the past semester cancelled since, they argued, the quality of classes had dipped after they were transferred online.
The head of a local transportation watchdog, Davit Meskhishvili, criticized the Georgian government about its management of public transport during the pandemic. Meskhishvili shared two photos on Facebook of passengers crammed together in a bus, and called for more stringent hygienic measures, including doubling the number of buses and personnel, as well as putting hand sanitizer dispensers in all public vehicles, OC Media reported on June 12.
Parliament has adopted a law requiring people to wear masks in indoor spaces, Interpress reported on June 12. The fines for noncompliance are 20 lari ($6.50) for individuals and 500 lari ($164) for businesses.
Voters will be provided with masks during October parliamentary elections, Interpress reported on June 11. Central Election Commission Chairperson Tamar Zhvania noted that maintaining social distancing during the elections would be impossible.
Parliament is considering legislation that would allow fines for citizens who do not wear masks in public spaces, reported Echo Kavkaza on June 2.
Shops and restaurants reopened on June 1 with strict sanitary requirements, including face masks, reported Agend.ge.
- The state of emergency ended on May 22. The government published a revised list of lockdown measures that will remain in place until July 15. Restrictions remain on international flights, public transport, public gatherings, schools, shopping centers and bars and restaurants.
People who do not wear masks in indoor settings will be fined 20 lari ($6.70), Interpress News reported on June 8.
On June 4, Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani offered his Armenian counterpart unspecified help fighting the pandemic. Petitioners in Georgia have asked the government to treat Armenian COVID-19 patients in Georgia, OC Media reported on June 5.
Plans to open the Georgian tourism sector to “green zone” countries may be put on hold as the pandemic in those states worsens, causing countries like Israel to ask Georgia to “postpone” the tourism restart, previously set for July 1, reported Interpress on June 10.
The Ministry of Finance drafted a bill reducing the budgets of the Presidential Administration, the Governmental Administration and Parliament, reported Interpress on June 9.
Georgia will increase its foreign debt by 6.1 billion GEL (about $2 billion) and its domestic debt by 1.8 billion GEL fighting COVID-19 this year, reported Agenda.ge on June 9. The World Bank predicts Georgia’s real GDP will decline this year by 4.8 percent.
The government statistics agency said Georgia’s year-on-year inflation amounted to 6.5 percent in May, reported Civil.ge on June 3.
Georgia’s tourism plan envisions opening only to tourists hailing from countries the government classifies as "green," where the virus has significantly abated, reported OC Media on June 2. Armenia, with its recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases, will not be included among the sanctioned countries, reported Radio Armenia on June 2. Currently, countries being considered include Israel, Austria, Germany, Czechia, Greece and the Baltic states, reported OC Media on June 3. Czechia has said its citizens would be safe visiting Georgia.
- Most cases in Abkhazia were brought by students returning home from Russian military academies. The de facto government declared a state of emergency on March 27 and stopped public transportation. It banned tourists, the mainstay of the economy, and closed most businesses. High school seniors were required to return to school on June 2 for a two-week preparation period for their final exams, reported Apsny News. All other grades finished school on May 13 due to the pandemic.
- The de facto government closed the border along the Enguri river after a brief reopening from May 26 to June 1, during which 532 people returned to Abkhazia from Georgia, reported Apsny on June 1.
- The de facto president of Abkhazia expressed concern that Russian aid had not been delivered to the territory so far this year, reported OC Media on June 5. Aslan Bzhaniya noted that revenues had been halved by the COVID-19 crisis, with little hope of recovery while income from tourism remains curtailed.
- South Ossetia, Georgia's other breakaway region, closed its border with Russia on April 5, including for freight, sealing the contested territory off for anyone without special government permission. It has extended the closure through June. The region's first case was confirmed on May 6. The patient arrived from Russia, state media reported. It is unclear how he passed the border, which has been closed. Two medical personnel have been infected in the region, reported Ekho Kavkaza on May 18.
- Outdoor seating in cafes, as well as open-air markets, have been allowed to reopen in South Ossetia, OC Media reported on June 12. As summer approaches and people move outdoors, police in South Ossetia say they will conduct spot checks in forests, parks and outdoor recreational areas to stop people from gathering in groups, official media reported on June 2.
- Kindergartens in South Ossetia may reopen on July 1, state media reported on June 11.
- The de facto president of Nagorno-Karabakh extended the region's state of emergency on June 11 through July 11, reported Tert.
- Quarantine measures have been strengthened in the southern Zhambyl region, TengriNews reported on June 12. Deputy Health Minister Lyudmila Byurabekova said on June 11 that COVID-19 cases are rising in Kazakhstan because people are failing to comply with social distancing requirements.
- Visits to imprisoned convicts will remain restricted until the end of the lockdown restrictions, reported Kaztag.kz on June 9.
- More than 100 protestors were detained on June 6 by authorities who claimed they needed to "disinfect" rally venues in major cities, Radio Azattyq reported. Health Minister Yelzhan Birtanov had warned activists that they faced arrest during the first protests since the state of emergency was lifted.
- Quarantine regulations have been increased in Atyrau, where two recent deaths from COVID-19 reportedly drove a decision to close public parks and squares, reported TengriNews on June 5.
- In response to concerns about the easing of quarantine restrictions, including, most recently, the reopening of spas, fitness centers, and communal baths on June 1, the chief sanitary doctor of Almaty, Zhandarbek Bekshin, announced that stricter measures may be considered going forward, reported TengriNews on June 3.
- Deputy Health Minister Liyazat Aktayeva confirmed that an eventual vaccine against the coronavirus would not be compulsory, reported TengriNews on June 12, stating that “citizens retain the right to informed consent or refusal.”
- COVID-19 patients have begun receiving antibody treatments with plasma transfusions from donors who have recovered from the virus, reported Fergana News on June 8.
- Nearly 600 police officers have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, reported TengriNews on June 9. No police fatalities have been recorded.
- A kindergarten in Petropavl closed for a 14-day period after a three-year-old attendee was confirmed to have COVID-19, reported TengriNews on June 9.
- Kazakhstan, and possibly other Central Asian countries, appear to be using the “Russian way” to approximate COVID-19 deaths, Fergana News reported on June 2. Russia and Kazakhstan are not including in their death totals patients who succumbed to COVID-19 but had underlying health issues.
- In response to criticism for easing quarantine restrictions while COVID-19 infections continue to rise, Kazakhstan's chief sanitary official, Aizhan Yesmagambetova, on June 2 pointed to the country's increased testing capacity and ability to keep infections from sharply peaking, Tengrinews reported.
- In Almaty, 17 more emergency response personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Tengrinews on June 2.
Finance Minister Yerulan Zhamaubaev assured the press on June 12 that governmental reserves could sufficiently cover a second wave of COVID-19, TengriNews reported.
Flights to Turkey will resume at the end of June, reported Zakon.kz on June 9.
Veteran Central Asia watcher Bruce Pannier examined how the pandemic is spreading rapidly at oil production and mining sites in Kazakhstan, exacerbating economic fears, in a June 3 RFE/RL analysis: "While government warnings about shutting down operations at sites where the spread of the coronavirus appears to be out of control are prudent, the authorities will be hard pressed to actually take such measures. [...] A suspension of work at any of the major oil fields or major copper mines would represent an additional loss of revenue the state can ill afford at the moment."
- The government has promised to up punishments for businesses that violate sanitary regulations, closing them rather than just issuing fines, reported Kloop on June 12. The change in policy followed reports of a large gathering at the Bishkek restaurant Kainar on June 11, which allegedly included members of parliament.
- Deputy Education Minister Nurlan Omurov has announced that university classes in the fall will be held online, reported 24.kg on June 8.
- Around 130 Kyrgyz migrants have been stuck in the Russian city of Troitsk since March 17, reported 24.kg on June 7. Members of the group reached out to the news network with pleas for help that echo the stories of other Central Asia migrants who lost work in Moscow and bought tickets home, only to find closed borders or cancelled flights.
- Parliamentary elections scheduled for October may be postponed due to the virus, reported 24.kg on June 3.
- Starting June 5, domestic flights and public transport will resume, reported 24.kg. Masks and temperature checks will be required before passengers board flights.
- Bishkek may require passengers on incoming international flights to attain a certificate of health three to five days before traveling to Kyrgyzstan, reported 24.kg on June 4.
- Mosques and churches will re-open starting on June 8, reported 24.kg on June 4.
- Nearly 200 Kyrgyz citizens returned from Novosibirsk on a May 31 chartered flight, reported Kloop, while 233 returned from Ekaterinburg.
- Children will not be required to pass a coronavirus test before beginning kindergarten this fall, 24.kg reported on June 9, only a certificate of good health. Meanwhile, six kindergarten employees were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, reported Kloop the same day.
- Teams of medics in Bishkek are knocking on doors to offer COVID-19 tests and check on people who may be treating themselves for the virus, 24.kg reported on June 2.
- Nineteen medics at Bishkek's infectious diseases hospital have tested positive for COVID-19, said the hospital's chief physician, Gulzhigit Aaliev, on May 29. "This is a great tragedy for us," he said in comments carried by Kaktus Media. "The psychological situation was good before, but after this, of course, it isn't anymore."
Flights between Bishkek and Osh will resume starting on June 12, reported 24.kg on June 10.
MP Dastan Bekeshev has called for an increase in doctors’ salaries, reported 24.kg on June 10. Doctors in Kyrgyzstan currently earn between 3,900 and 10,000 soms ($52 and $135) per month.
The National Bank has projected a 4 percent fall in GDP this year, reported 24.kg on June 10.
The tourist season is officially open in Kyrgyzstan, reported 24.kg on June 5, but the flow of holidaymakers to Lake Issyk-Kul is not expected to start until June 20.
- Charter flights will begin bringing Chinese workers back into the country this month, Vice Prime Minister Erkin Asrandiev said on June 3, to resume work on numerous investment projects backed by China.
The lower house of parliament on June 10 adopted a bill that would allow police to fine and imprison people for appearing in public without a mask, Radio Ozodi reported. Repeat offenders could face up to 10 years in prison.
The Dushanbe police have launched a campaign to catch teenagers walking around the city without masks, reported Fergana News on June 10.
Restaurants, markets, clothing stores, hotels and salons will reopen in Tajikistan on June 15, reported Radio Ozodi on June 7. All employees and customers will be required to wear masks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) intends to send another mission to Tajikistan, Fergana News reported on June 5, noting “there are also suspicions that the authorities are either hiding cases or at the very least making little effort to detect them.”
The Health Ministry warned of the prevalence of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the region, urging people to continue strictly observing social-distancing regulations and wearing masks in public spaces, reported Avesta on June 4.
Over 1,200 Russian citizens were evacuated from Tajikistan in May, Ferghana News on June 4 quoted the Russian ambassador as saying.
Dushanbe officials are digging extra graves and covering them with plastic in preparation for COVID-19 fatalities, Prague-based Akhbor reported on May 28.
Tajikistan has blocked a website that is trying to independently track COVID-related deaths. The crowd-sourced site, kvtj.info, lists hundreds of deaths caused by COVID-19 or related pneumonia, many times the government's official tally.
According to the UN, over 1,700 medical workers in Tajikistan have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, Avesta reported on June 11. On June 8, medical personnel represented 36 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.
Shifobakhsh, the primary medical center in Dushanbe that has been used to treat COVID-19, discharged its last patient with the virus and returned to normal operations, reported Fergana News on June 10. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,250 COVID-19 patients have undergone treatment at Shifobakhsh.
In May the number of virology labs in Dushanbe increased from one to three, reported Avesta.tj on June 3.
The head of the GBAO region is being treated for COVID-19 and responding well to retroviral drugs. But several days after being tested, Yodgor Fayzov has still not received the results, he told Asia-Plus on May 28.
As part of its emergency assistance plan for Tajikistan, the EU has delivered 24.7 tons of PPE to hospitals across the country, reported Avesta on June 12.
Wages decreased by 10 percent in the 12 months to April 2020, the UN said on June 1. (The report did not specify if the change was real or nominal).
Service industry businesses will benefit from new tax holidays designed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the tourism and hospitality sectors, reported Fergana News on June 5.
Physicians in Tajikistan who diagnose or treat COVID-19 patients will receive salary bonuses over the coming months from the presidential reserve fund, reported Avesta.tj on June 3. Some 4.2 million somoni ($409,000) have been allocated to that purpose so far.
Asia-Plus on June 2 published an FAQ about unemployment benefits, who is eligible, and how to apply.
Uzbekistan has become the biggest humanitarian aid donor to Tajikistan in COVID-19 containment efforts, giving about $2.5 million since the pandemic started in January, reported AsiaPlus on May 22. A group of eight doctors who had been sent to Dushanbe to help treat COVID-19 patients returned to Uzbekistan on May 22.
Authorities continue to deny the pandemic has reached the country, but doctors in Ashgabat told Radio Azatlyk on June 10 that the capital's infectious disease hospital is crowded with patients suffering acute pneumonia. Some have died. Doctors believe the cases are COVID-19. Azatlyk reported on suspected cases in Lebab and Dashoguz provinces, as well.
Turkmenistan is preparing for a long-delayed WHO visit by emptying a quarantine center in the city of Turkmenabat and sending people home, reported the Chronicles of Turkmenistan, an exile-run publication, on June 10. Hospital staff say they have also been provided with new protective equipment, apparently to impress the international visitors. Some people who had been quarantined for being potential COVID-19 carriers have been moved to a psychiatric hospital, according to the report.
After six weeks of negotiations, Turkmenistan says it will permit a visit from the World Health Organization at an unspecified date in June, RFE/RL reported on June 5. Ashgabat continues to insist it is unaffected by the global pandemic and has carried on holding mass events, like celebrating World Cycling Day on June 3 by recording a music video featuring the president.
Tehran says Turkmenistan and Iran have agreed to restart road and rail traffic as of June 10. This had been due to happen on June 1, but the date was delayed as facilities were being put in place for disinfecting cargo. Trucks must pass 26-meter-long tunnels through a 70-centimeter deep pool of disinfectant liquid – in effect, a sheep dip for trucks. Turkmenistan has said it wants to build similar facilities on the Afghan border.
Turkish Airlines hopes to resume flights to Ashgabat on July 1, regional media reported on May 29.
Not a week passes now without a fresh report of public anger about food shortages in the regions. Vienna-based Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported on May 10 that the head of the Turkmenbashi district in the Dashoguz province was, while he was out inspecting cotton fields, manhandled by residents indignant at the scant supplies of subsidized flour at the local state store. People are particularly exercised that more emphasis has been placed in the area on cultivating cotton, which can be used to raise foreign currency but cannot be eaten, instead of wheat. Police eventually got involved, Chronicles reported
- Samarkand's historical mosques and shrines reopened on June 11, Podrobno reported on June 10.
- The number of people held in guarded quarantine sites has averaged 20,000-25,000, with 1,000 people leaving or joining each day. Fergana News reported on June 8 on the camp outside Tashkent, where shipping containers were converted into quarantine units for those returning from abroad.
- On June 8, 1,450 Tashkent residents received a warning from the police for not wearing masks outside, reported Podrobno on June 9.
- A heat wave and dwindling supply of money have prompted residents of Tashkent to return to public spaces despite the continuing severity of the pandemic in the capital, reported Fergana News on June 8. While most wear masks, many do so haphazardly, photos show.
- The government announced on June 4 that it would allow more stores, restaurants and kindergartens to reopen on June 15. A ban on nightclubs, city buses and the Tashkent metro, concerts and group prayers will remain.
- High school seniors applying to university will only have to sit tests on two subjects during their exit exams instead of the usual five, reported Fergana News on June 4. However, they must still report physically to take the exam. Students will wear masks and gloves during the test, while the exam room will be disinfected no less than four times during the day.
- The country has been divided into zones to indicate the level of permitted movement: red, yellow and green. In the green zone, cars can move freely without special permits and more businesses are allowed to reopen.
- The government has spent approximately $11 million on treatment of COVID-19 patients, reported Kun.uz on May 25.
- Professor of Epidemiology Hairulla Mustafayev, chief researcher at the Institute of Virology in Tashkent, stated on May 25 that there will not be a second wave of coronavirus infections in Uzbekistan.
Russia has delivered more than 88,500 coronavirus tests to Uzbekistan since the start of the pandemic, Podrobno reported on June 12.
Washington has granted Uzbekistan about $6 million in aid to help with the pandemic thus far, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent said, reported Central Asia News on June 12.
A Chinese-Uzbek pharmaceutical company has developed a drug that it claims “reduces the effects” of COVID-19 by 78.3 percent, reported Fergana News on June 10. Eleven thousand packages of the drug have been sent to Iran as humanitarian aid.
Uzbekistan sold 2.2 million medical masks to Kuwait for $450,000, reported Kun.uz on June 10.
Medical workers in the Syrdarya region received the salary supplement promised by the president only after the General Prosecutor's office intervened, reported Kun.uz on June 5.
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Georgia is getting ready to host tourists, but would-be backpackers should not get their hopes up.
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Officials are poised to reopen the country only weeks after the crisis began.
Armenia quickly adding hospital capacity for growing COVID-19 outbreak
Some patients have died because of a lack of hospital capacity, but the country has added several hundred more beds.
Azerbaijanis rebel against strict weekend lockdown
Strict stay-at-home orders did not go over well with many Azerbaijanis, leading to clashes with police officers.
Emerging from lockdown: Time for Georgian food?
Georgia is cautiously returning to normal life, but wondering if opening up will threaten its hard-won success in stemming the spread of coronavirus.
Uzbekistan: Heartbreak and despair for expat laborers trapped by COVID
Tens of thousands of Uzbek workers are trying to get home. In Uzbekistan itself, however, not everybody is eager to see them.
Amid renewed COVID-19 outbreak, Azerbaijan introduces strict lockdown
The long weekend curfew is modeled after Turkey’s, as the disease is spreading rapidly following the loosening of earlier restrictions.
Armenia continues to suffer skyrocketing COVID cases – including the prime minister
Pashinyan’s diagnosis highlights the country’s increasingly unsuccessful battle against the disease.
Kyrgyzstan: President pleads for sovereign debt restructuring
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Preoccupied as they are fighting the coronavirus, Armenia and Georgia have still found time to pick one of their classic fights about who is better at something.
Tajikistan strains credibility with apparent COVID-19 turnaround
Tajikistan is claiming major strides in containing its coronavirus outbreak. The figures may prompt some to cock an eyebrow, however.
Kyrgyzstan: Distance-learning exposes weaknesses of education system
Interest is waning in the state’s distance-education offerings, which have struggled to reach poor, rural students.
Tajikistan sees unusual protests, authorities react with force
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