Kulob mayor replaced

By president’s decree Abduqodir Valizoda has been relieved of his post of Mayor of Kulob, a source within the Kulob mayor’s office told Asia-Plus in an in interview.

Abduqodir Valizoda

Valizoda has served as Mayor of Kulob since June 20, 2020. Prior to this, he had served as Mayor of Tursunzoda.

By another president’s decree Bakhtiyor Nazarzoda, who had previously served as the head of Khatlon Main Finance Directorate, was appointed an acting Mayor of Kulob.

Bakhtiyor Nazarzoda

Chairpersons of a number of cities and districts of Khatlon have also been replaced, the source added.

It is to be noted that Bakhtiyor Nazarzoda is already the third mayor of Kulob in two years.

He replaced Bathroom Inoyatzoda in June 2020, after the latter was arrested on corruption charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison on November 20, 2020. Inoyatzoda had served as Mayor of Kulob since May 2019.

Source: Asia-Plus

Taliban asks U.S. Congress for release of Afghanistan’s central bank assets frozen by the U.S. government

Muttaqi reportedly said that following the signing of the Doha Agreement, the Islamic Emirate and the US is no longer neither in direct conflict or in military opposition.

“It is quite surprising that with the announcement of the new government, the administration of the United States of America slapped sanctions on the assets of our Central Bank. This goes against our expectations as well as the Doha Agreement,” the letter reads.

The letter reads that “currently the fundamental challenge of our people is financial security and the roots of this concern lead back to the freezing of assets of our people by the American government.”

The letter says that the Islamic Emirate understands the concerns of the international community and the United States, saying that freezing Afghanistan’s assets cannot resolve any problem.

“We are of the belief that freezing Afghan assets cannot resolve the problem at hand neither is it the demand of the American people, hence your government must unfreeze our capital,” the letter reads.

The foreign ministry in the letter said if the Afghan assets remain frozen, problems in Afghanistan will increase given that winter is fast approaching. It urged the US Congress and the US government to review its decision and release the assets. “We are concerned that if the current situation prevails, the Afghan government and people will face problems and will become a cause for mass migration in the region and world which will consequently create further humanitarian and economic issues for the world,” the letter reads.

The letter reads that the freeze of Afghan assets and the United States sanctions are damaging Afghanistan’s health, education and other civil services systems. And that damaging these systems will harm common Afghans. The letter says that given the droughts, past wars, and COVID-19 impact, the sanctions and freezing of money may escalate the level of financial and economic problems in Afghanistan.

“In conclusion, I request the government of the United States of America take responsible steps towards addressing the humanitarian and economic crisis unfolding in Afghanistan so that doors for future relations are opened, assets of Afghanistan’s Central Bank are unfrozen and sanctions on our banks are lifted,” the letter reads.

Source: Asia-Plus

China In Eurasia Briefing: Is The World Giving Beijing A Pass Over Xinjiang?

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held their first formal talks on November 15 in a virtual summit, where tensions over Taiwan were a central issue.

While mentioned in the readout of the summit, Xinjiang -- where Beijing is accused of running mass internment camps against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities -- received minimal attention, feeding growing frustration from activists and the broader Uyghur community over a lack of action to hold China accountable for alleged abuses in the region.

Finding Perspective: From trade to climate change to Hong Kong, there’s no shortage of issues for Biden and Xi to discuss, and both leaders are looking to lower the temperature in the U.S.-China relationship as tensions reach new heights.

But for the Uyghur diaspora and those working closely on Xinjiang, there is a growing fear that governments could be looking to back away from pushing China too hard over its alleged atrocities there, which range from forced labor to mass sterilization of women to torture.

That feeling of frustration over a lack of action against Beijing was felt loudly when I was at the World Uyghur Congress in Prague, which was held from November 11-14. You can read my full report from the gathering here.

The U.S. government and some Western parliaments have declared that Beijing’s policies against the Uyghurs amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. Washington and the European Union have also enacted varying levels of sanctions against Chinese officials over Xinjiang.

But the level of response is still seen as lacking, given the scale and severity of the abuses that have allegedly been committed.

I spoke with members of the Uyghur community, former camp detainees, researchers, and activists, and they all mentioned a loss of hope that the international community would hold China to account for its treatment of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other groups in Xinjiang, despite an overwhelming amount of available evidence.

Why It Matters: As Rian Thum, a senior research fellow at the University of Nottingham, told me at the congress: “We’ve never had this level of documentation for an atrocity in real time.”

More so, a large chunk of the evidence comes from leaked or publicly available documents from the Chinese government itself.

Still, the pace of action against China over Xinjiang is slowing, and that tension between mounting evidence and minimal action -- which has mostly come from Western countries -- could grow even further.

Expert Corner: What’s Next For Europe And China?

Readers asked: “New governments in the Czech Republic and Germany have signaled a harder line toward China. How is the mood changing across Europe and what should we watch for next?”

To find out more, I asked Martin Hala, an expert at Charles University in Prague and the director of Sinopsis, a project that tracks China in Europe:

“Germany often sets the tone for other EU members, and its relationship with [Beijing] is much more complex. Unlike the Czech Republic, it has a massive economic relationship with China. The relationship has not been shaken by an incident on par with those in Sweden or the Czech Republic, yet even here the old Merkel-style mollification seems no longer feasible.

“Europe is going through a similar process like other regions, namely Australia and the United States, of waking up to some uncomfortable facts in their relationships with [Beijing], and searching for the right responses. The difference is that the EU is 27 countries, and all of Europe is 44, and they all have different risk perceptions and different experiences with China. So, the reckoning is more fractured, more stopgap, and less predictable.

“As much as many in Europe would like to stay on the sidelines of what the United States terms a 'Great-Power Competition,' sooner or later they will find out that they need to defend their own basic values. Eventually, they will be dragged out of their complacency, kicking and screaming.”

Do you have a question about China’s growing footprint in Eurasia? Send it to me at StandishR@rferl.org or reply directly to this e-mail and I’ll get it answered by leading experts and policymakers.

Three More Stories From Eurasia

1. Energy Ripples Continue To Spread

An accelerating energy crisis taking hold across Europe and Asia can already be felt in a variety of ways, from blackouts in Tajikistan to rising electricity costs across the Balkans to short-term profits for state companies in Russia, as I reported here.

The Details: With winter approaching, the sudden energy crunch hitting the world is threatening already stressed supply chains, stirring geopolitical tensions, and raising questions about how ready the world is for a transition to greener forms of energy.

Europe and Asia are essentially facing pressure on two fronts that could continue to create large ripple effects around the world.

On one side, the current crisis first emerged in China as global demand for its products suddenly and unexpectedly shot upward this year as part of a post-pandemic economic surge.

But coal stocks were low and the country faced an electricity deficit due climate policies being adopted in China.

In need of energy, Chinese power companies turned to buying up coal around the world and also to the natural-gas market, leading to purchases at an even faster rate than traders in Europe had been anticipating, causing prices to soar.

This, in turn, sparked rising prices across Europe and raised the prospect of supply shortages in several countries.

While things continue to develop, one early winner is Moscow.

Chinese imports of coal from Russia have tripled compared to last year. The rising cost of natural gas has also given Moscow and Gazprom, its state-run gas company, additional leverage over Brussels as it pushes for final approvals for its new and controversial Baltic Sea gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2, which will bypass Ukraine.

2. Brussels Shifts Gears On China

The EU is slowly becoming more hard-nosed when it comes to dealing with China, and the 27-country bloc has a slew of new moves in the pipeline to keep that momentum moving forward.

More Eyes On Beijing: For starters, the EU is expected to roll out its Global Gateway strategy: 40 billion euros ($45.9 billion) in technology and infrastructure spending that is slated to be a vital component of the West’s response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The strategy was set to be unveiled on November 17 but has since been pushed back to December 1, in large part due to Brussels' need to shift its attention to a migrant crisis on the border with Poland and Belarus.

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the bloc’s diplomatic corps, also unveiled a draft of its Strategic Compass on November 15. The document draws up how the EU sees itself in the world in terms of strategy and security going forward, with some interesting lines on China.

The draft continues with the standard view from Brussels that China is “a partner, an economic competitor, and a systemic rival,” but goes further in taking focus on the Indo-Pacific, which the EU is increasingly viewing as the key geopolitical theater of the 21st century.

While the document highlights EU hopes for cooperation with Beijing on climate change, it has some critical passages on China:

“China gains advantages through our divisions, tends to limit access to its market, and seeks to promote globally its own standards. It pursues its policies including through its growing presence at sea, in space, and online. China’s development and integration into its region, and the world at large, will mark the rest of this century. We need to ensure that this happens in a way that will contribute to greater global security.”

3. 'This Is A Robbery!'

A new system proposed by the Kyrgyz government to kick-start trade between China and Kyrgyzstan has truck drivers who make their living ferrying cargo across the border worried that prohibitive added costs could leave them financially squeezed, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported (also available in Russian).

What You Need To Know: For more than 18 months, pandemic-related restrictions introduced by China along its border with Kyrgyzstan have seen cross-border commerce dwindle and left the truckers and businesses who rely on the shuttle trade desperate for a financial lifeline.

But a new proposal to reignite trade has sparked a backlash, with protests from truckers near the border taking place on November 8.

Trade with China makes up a crucial portion of the Kyrgyz economy, but since the start of the pandemic in 2020 imports from China to Kyrgyzstan have fallen by 57.5 percent, with the number of trucks crossing with cargo declining tenfold.

This has left Bishkek desperate to raise trade back to pre-pandemic levels, but the current proposal to do so is a complicated and costly scheme involving carriers from a state-run enterprise ferrying goods back and forth to truckers across a neutral zone on the border and charging a fee ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 per truck.

For drivers in Kyrgyzstan, this added cost could be debilitating to business.

Across The Supercontinent

'Gray' Miners: Kazakhstan is facing rolling blackouts in some areas after the country welcomed an influx of cryptocurrency miners following a crackdown in neighboring China, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.

Cracks In The Road: Action for Social Justice, a Montenegro-based NGO, issued a recent report saying that the government’s new and controversial Chinese-funded highway is already starting to face construction quality issues.

Montenegrin government officials denied the claims from the report to my colleagues at RFE/RL’s Balkan Service and said that they would be issuing their own findings on the matter at a later date.

New Rules: China has suggested a radical change to the way the Internet works to the UN, which many Western countries fear could lead to more control for state-run Internet services around the globe, the Financial Times reports.

'I’m Sick All The Time': A joint Kazakh-Chinese industrial project in southern Kazakhstan is under fire for pollution and environmental damage, with many local residents complaining about health problems to RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service.

Bases And Bombs: The Pentagon released its annual report on China’s military.

While the biggest news was about China’s growing nuclear arsenal, the report also focused on China’s expanding security footprint in Central Asia, in particular in Tajikistan, which has been the focus of several recent reports here at RFE/RL.

One Thing To Watch

China's Xi further cemented his power at a key meeting of the Communist Party elite, overseeing the passing of a landmark resolution that paved the way for him to secure a third term in office.

The resolution puts Xi on the same pedestal as Mao Zedong and reformist leader Deng Xiaoping.

Expect Xi to continue to consolidate his hold on power and smooth his path toward next year's 20th Party Congress, where he is expected to extend his rule for another five-year term.

That’s all from me for now. Don’t forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you might have.

Until next time,

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

U.S. State Department Adds Russia To Register Of World’s ‘Worst Violators’ Of Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department has officially added Russia to its register of the world's “worst violators” of religious freedom, a list that includes Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and five other countries.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan, independent body created by Congress to make recommendations about global religious freedom, proposed in its annual report released on April 21 that Russia, India, Syria, and Vietnam be put on the "countries of particular concern" list, a category reserved for those countries that carry out "systematic, ongoing, and egregious" violations of religious freedoms.

On November 17, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that, of those four countries, he would be adding Russia to the list. Neither India, Syria, or Vietnam were designated as “countries of particular concern.”

The blacklisting paves the way for sanctions if the countries included do not improve their records.

The State Department added four countries to its special watch list, meaning there are still "severe" violations of religious freedom there, including Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

The State Department did not follow through on USCIRF’s recommendation to add Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan to the list.

“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses,” Blinken said in a November 17 statement.

In its April report, the USCIRF said that “religious freedom conditions in Russia deteriorated” last year, with the government targeting religious minorities deemed as “nontraditional” with fines, detentions, and criminal charges.

For decades, religious minorities like Jehovah's Witnesses have been viewed with suspicion in Russia, where the dominant Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin.

A total of 188 criminal cases alone were brought against the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, while there were 477 raids and searches of members’ homes, with raids and interrogations including “instances of torture that continue to go uninvestigated and unpunished,” the April report said.

Russia has continued to crack down on Jehovah’s Witnesses since then.

A court in the southwestern city of Astrakhan on October 26 sentenced four Jehovah’s Witnesses to lengthy prison terms for creating or taking part in an extremist group.

Earlier that month, a court in the southern city of Krasnodar sentenced a 59-year-old disabled Jehovah’s Witness to four years in prison for holding a Bible study with fellow believers.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Results of the contest “The best poem, story and publicist article in honor of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan”

November 16 in the Republic of Tajikistan celebrates the Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan and the anniversary of the historic XVI Session of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Tajikistan. Because on this day in 1992 at the XVI historic session of the Supreme Council of the country in Khujand Emomali Rahmon was elected President and an important, constructive and decisive stage in the history of the Tajik nation and Tajik statehood began.

It is obvious that the 16th Session of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Tajikistan in the history of our new statehood, during the period of Independence, is a fateful and saving session of the nation. It saved our country from disintegration and, most importantly, the historic session brought to the political arena a wise, courageous, patriotic and patriotic young man - the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon. In the person of this brave man, the nation has found its worthy leader and entered the stage of creation. Today, the happy and proud people of Tajikistan with pride and tribute to the unique achievements of the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon celebrate November 16 as the Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Dedicated to this historic date, the Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and its units also held a number of scientific, practical and cultural events.

In this context, an event was held on November 16 in the cultural hall of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, which is an incentive for participants of the contest "Best Poetry, Story and Publicist Article in Honor of the President of Tajikistan."

The contest was announced in accordance with the Action Plan of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, dedicated to the Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, among active youth of the country.

With the sound of the National Anthem, the ceremony began in the festively decorated hall of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. One of the most active youth of the country Kadyrov F. Congratulating the participants of the event on this auspicious date, the teacher of the Department of Social Sciences Rasulzod L. spoke on "The role of the Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in strengthening national statehood."

After the speech of the Head of the Jury Khayriddin Hayrandesh - People's Poet of Tajikistan on the creation of youth and teenagers, whose poems, stories and journalism are dedicated to the Great Leader of the Nation, the ceremony of awarding tufa to the winners and participants began.

The jury, consisting of well-known specialists under the leadership of the People's Poet of Tajikistan, Master Khayriddin Hayrandesh, summed up the competition, and more than 11 young people - active participants of the competition were awarded valuable prizes.

At the end of the festive event, the head of the Department for Awareness and Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Colonel Bukhorizoda MG expressed his views on the future support of young people by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and congratulated the participants on the Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. He noted that not only the people of the country, but also the people of the country recognized the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan as a person of peace and tranquility in the international arena. , and the world has acknowledged that in my opinion there is no need to confirm this statement, because: "What is obvious does not need to be stated."

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan

Training seminar-meeting: “The role of the great leader of the nation Emomali Rahmon in building a new statehood of Tajiks”

“At all times, there are personalities who enter the political arena, for the future of which the nation and the state are crucial. In fact, the Founder of Peace and National Unity - Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon is a crucial figure for the Tajik nation, because it is through their initiative, hard work and dedication that the Tajik nation today has an independent and civilized state. " Samizoda Bakhtiyor Salim, a lieutenant colonel of the militia of the Republic of Tajikistan, speaking at a training seminar-meeting dedicated to the "Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan" at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dushanbe.

It should be noted that November 16 will be written in golden letters on the pages of the modern history of the Tajik nation, and a series of educational events will be held in honor of this historic date. For this purpose, in order to celebrate the "Day of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan" in the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dushanbe. A training seminar entitled "The role of the great leader of the nation Emomali Rahmon in building a new Tajik statehood" was also held in Dushanbe.

The meeting was attended by the leadership and staff of the Central Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dushanbe and Associate Professor of Social Sciences of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, Lieutenant Colonel Samizoda Bakhtiyor Salim.

First, the Deputy Chief of the MIA Department in Dushanbe. Dushanbe police colonel Habibov Saifullo Abdulloevich opened the seminar-meeting with an introductory speech and spoke about the efforts and sacrifices of the great son of the nation, President Emomali Rahmon on the way to building an independent and civilized Tajik state. As he noted, in fact, the great leader of the nation came to the leadership of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan at a time when the most difficult political and social situation - the imposed civil war - gripped the Tajik nation. It was all these self-sacrifices, eternal wisdom, wise and far-sighted policy of this noble man of the Tajik nation, who united all opposition forces around one national idea and statehood and laid the foundation for the establishment of a democratic, law-based and secular state of Tajikistan.

In another part of the seminar-meeting Samizoda Bakhtiyor Salim, an employee of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan made a very informative and interesting report on "The role of the great leader of the nation Emomali Rahmon in building a new Tajik statehood." Emomali Rahmon made a speech.

At the end, questions and answers were exchanged between the speakers and participants of the meeting, and each of them gave himself a global meaning.

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan

Ambassador of Tajikistan to Turkey Meets Governor of Ankara

Yesterday, the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Turkey Ashrafjon Gulov met with the Governor of Ankara Vasip Shahin.

The meeting focused on a wide range of issues related to cooperation between the two countries, in particular with the city of Ankara in the fields of economy, trade, investment, education, culture, tourism, as well as prospects for these interactions.

The parties had a good and wide-ranging discussion to find new ways of trade, economic and investment cooperation.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan

Meeting of the Ambassador of Tajikistan with the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

On 17 November 2021, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Tajikistan to Japan Mirzosharif Jalolov met with the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Mr. Honda Taro Satoshi in Tokyo.

During the meeting, a wide range of issues of bilateral relations between Tajikistan and Japan in various fields of cooperation and interaction between the two countries within the framework of the Central Asia + Japan Dialogue were discussed.

Source: Ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan

Inclusion of the 2500th anniversary of the ancient city of Takht-i Sangin and the 1050th anniversary of Abu Rayhan al-Biruni in the list of anniversaries of the UNESCO

The National Commission of the Republic of Tajikistan for UNESCO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the 221st Session of the Executive board of UNESCO,on April 17, 2020 subbmited initiative to include 2500th anniversary of the ancient city of Takht-i Sangin and the joint proposal by Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran of 1050 anniversary of Abu Rayhan al-Biruni in the list of anniversaries with which UNESCO could be associated.

During the 41st session of the General Conference of UNESCO on November 11, 2021, proposal of tajik delegation headed by Minister of foreign affairs/Chairman of Tjik National Commisission for UNESCO to include 2500th anniversary of the ancient town of Takhti Sangin and the joint nomination of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the 1050th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding scholar of the East Abu Rayhan al-Biruni into the List of anniversaries celebrated in association with UNESCO in 2022-2023 was approved in accordance with the recommendations of the Executive Board of UNESCO and Decision 41 C/15 of the General Conference.

In the framework of the 41st session of the UNESCO General Conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan/ Tajikistan Chairman of the National Commission for UNESCO Sirodjidin Muhriddin met with Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, President of the Executive Board of UNESCO Agapito Mba Mokuy, Assistant Director-General Shamila Nair-Beduelle and the Director of the French National Museum of Asian Art “Guime” Sophie Macariu.

On November 11, 2021 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, Chairman of the National Commission of the Republic of Tajikistan for UNESCO Sirodjidin Muhriddin addressed important cultural and environmental issues on the 41st session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris.

The head of the Tajik delegation highlited the importance of the Conference as a useful platform for learning, sharing experience and coordinating joint efforts of UNESCO and its member states to promote goals and objectives related to the protection of national values – culture, language, historical, cultural, natural monuments, traditions and customs, the development of science and education.

The 41st session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris will last until 24 of November.

Source: Ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan