By Tomas Baranec
September 28, 2020, the CACI Analyst
On August 1, 2020, Sukhumi reopened its border with Russia. The border had been closed since early April to halt the spread of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The decision was driven by Abkhazia’s economic concerns, given the region’s heavy dependence on the flow of Russian tourists. However, the development of the epidemiological situation in Abkhazia in the first three weeks after the border reopened indicated that the combination of a massive influx of tourists from the world’s third most infected country and a lack of medical infrastructure in the region could have a negative impact overriding any economic gains from tourism.
By Farkhod Tolipov
July 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May-June 2020, Central Asia experienced several border incidents between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These incidents revealed once again, on the one hand, the local population’s transboundary lifestyle and on the other, the artificial character of the borders that separate independent states from each other. Similar incidents have recurred in the region with a certain frequency since gaining independence; however, none of them escalated into larger and dangerous conflicts since resolutions came quickly and were based on unique integrative arrangements.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The collapse of oil prices and oil demand along with the economic shutdown imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic are putting a strain on Azerbaijan’s economy. The upheaval on the global oil market has exposed fragilities in Azerbaijan’s banking system as four of its banks were recently put under temporary administration of the central bank and others had their capital requirements relaxed. The government has introduced economic and social packages to mitigate the consequences of the crisis; however, growth forecasts in 2020 remain pessimistic.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
June 10, 2020, the CACI Analyst
At an April 6 ministerial meeting, Russia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin made a remark to the governors of Russia’s provinces, who in the preceding weeks introduced a ban on leaving and entering their respective regions in order to curb covid-19 infections, advising them “not to confuse regional powers with federal authorities.” As Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov had introduced a ban on the republic’s physical contacts with the outside world in the end of March, Kadyrov took this general statement personally. Soon, Kadyrov expressed concern that the prime minister was being “misled.” The conflict marks what some believe is the beginning of a troublesome relationship between Chechnya’s leader and Russia’s newly appointed prime minister.
By Bakhrom Radjabov
June 4, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Since January, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has reached the level of a global pandemic. At first, some Central Asian republics seemed to be virus-free islands with zero confirmed infection cases. Afghanistan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on February 24, followed by a closure of the borders with other Central Asian republics. Kazakhstan discovered its first cases of COVID-19 on March 13, and Uzbekistan on March 15. Kyrgyzstan confirmed its first case on March 18 whereas Tajikistan did not report any cases until April 30. Before this date, the country allowed mass gatherings, including the celebration of Navruz, which was cancelled by other Central Asian governments. Turkmen authorities have so far not officially reported any cases of COVID-19 in the country.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.