In our podcast this week Aigerim Toleukhanova and Alisher Khamidov revisit the “relokanty” – Russians who fled the war – who are now receiving expedited Kyrgyz citizenship, buying property and opening businesses. But their presence is no longer as controversial as it was last year when the sudden arrival of thousands upset local economies and stoked inflation.
Central Asians watched the Putin-Xi meeting last week anxious that neighboring powers are making decisions for their region without consulting them. But a bigger worry is debt to China, which is approximately 60 percent of the external debt in Tajikistan and 40 percent in Kyrgyzstan. Will China restructure? When asked, it doesn’t give a clear answer.
It will soon be two years since the Taliban swept back into power in Afghanistan. The Central Asian states cannot agree how to address lingering tensions, and some new ones.
And it is spring, a time of rebirth and landslides: Alisher recently visited uranium tailings deposits in Kara-Balta, Kyrgyzstan. He reports that many of the radioactive sites are used to graze cattle and for kids’ soccer games, while locals dismiss health concerns. Yet experts fear these poorly marked waste deposits sprinkled across Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan could wash into rivers and create a widespread humanitarian crisis.
Aigerim Toleukhanova is a journalist and researcher from Kazakhstan.
Alisher Khamidov is a writer based in Bishkek.