Men in white fur caps proudly ride horses across the steppe, rows of modern machinery glisten, Barbie-pink flamingos strut before clear blue skies and a white yacht cuts through the turquoise waters of the Caspian Sea.
These are idyllic scenes from a one-minute video promoting the inaugural Caspian Economic Forum, which between August 11 and 12 will see heads of state from Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan descend on Awaza, a new resort town that has been touted by Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry as the country's Las Vegas
The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym Tokayev issued a decree on the evening of August 9th pardoning trade union leader Erlan Baltabay, leader of the Fuel and Energy Workers' Union and vice-president of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (KNPRK), from custody. Baltabay was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on July 17, 2019, on embezzlement charges that the international labor movement condemned as being politically motivated. His sentence also included a prohibition on trade union activities for an additional seven years after his jail term
The economic crisis in Turkmenistan, caused by the fall in hard currency revenue from gas sales, is forcing residents of the “Motherland of Prosperity” — this is the country’s slogan for 2019 — to keep finding new ways to earn money. Turkmen.news has already written about Turkmen citizens travelling abroad as shuttle traders. Our fellow countrymen have taken crockery and household items to Zhanaozen (Kazakhstan), domestic appliances to Urgench (Uzbekistan), and foodstuffs to Istanbul, while huge bags of Turkmen textiles caused a malfunction in the baggage system at Almaty airport.
The ITUC has harshly condemned the sentencing of Kazakhstan trade union leader Erlan Baltabay. Efforts to improve freedom of association for working people are once again jeopardised; but the country’s new leadership could still intervene.
The 12th PERC Summer School “Democracy and freedoms in Europe and Central Asia” took place in Budapest, Hungary, on 9-11 July. In his opening speech PERC President Irakli Petriashvili spoke about challenges to the freedom of association and democracy in the region, growing inequalities and gender gaps, and called all unions to be vigilant and pro-active to prevent further erosion of democracy and to advance workers’ rights and freedoms.
In Tashkent, women facing violence at home have nowhere to go. No one has heard of shelters, and if a woman has no friends or relatives, the situation becomes impossible: no hotel will take a locally registered single woman, on suspicion of prostitution. It’s pointless contacting the police, even in the most desperate circumstances. In a recent case, police refused to accept a statement by a 14-year old girl that she had been raped, because she was “of the age of consent and had no obvious signs of injury”.