In our podcast this week, Aigerim Toleukhanova and Alisher Khamidov discuss how reports of a small group of separatists in northern Kazakhstan have outraged Kazakhs. But how credible is the threat? And why has the group emerged now? Regional governments are good at using fears of separatism to argue that citizens must fall into line, to silence protests and democratic movements.
Uzbekistan has been shaken by a horrific tale of sexual slavery in an Urgench orphanage. The perpetrators were local officials who had gone largely unpunished until the president’s daughter, Saida Mirziyoyeva, demanded justice. Does it really require an intervention from the top for Uzbekistan to address such a tragedy? Still, this is a big change: Mirziyoyeva has become one of the country’s most influential officials, and she is championing laws to address gender-based violence.
And Tajikistan, the sole non-Turkic country in Central Asia, has long been wary of Turkic unity. But the president, Emomali Rahmon, the region’s longest-ruling leader, is isolated and seeking new friends. Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev paid a visit last week; Turkmenistan’s president, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, is supposed to visit soon.
Aigerim Toleukhanova is a journalist and researcher from Kazakhstan.
Alisher Khamidov is a writer based in Bishkek.