Crossroads Asia

Sex Sells, Even in Tajikistan

Analyzing the Kyrgyz election and just who does Turkmenistan think it’s fooling? Friday links.

Sex Sells, Even in Tajikistan
Credit: heart on keyboard via

Central Asia links for the weekend:

Kyrgyzstan: First, listen to Nate Schenkkan’s latest Central Asianist Podcast. His guest was Chris Rickleton and they (mostly) focus on the details of the Kyrgyz election earlier this month–bonus intro on the jail-break in Bishkek, which Eurasianet has updated information on. Rickleton gets deep into the nuances of Kyrgyz politics and the two think through how the six parties which cleared the threshold to enter parliament will form a government. The podcast ends with a discussion of what Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has planned for the final two years of his term. Constitutionally, he won’t be able to run for a second term. What does a Kyrgyz lame duck look like?

Cristina Maza, in a piece on Muftah, writes that Kyrgyzstan’s election paints a mixed picture of democracy in Central Asia. There are areas of concern–lack of distinct political platforms among the parties, for example–but also room for optimism. Flawed as Kyrgyz democracy may be, it is decidedly of a different nature than democracy elsewhere in the region.

Tajikistan: Sex never stops selling, even in Tajikistan. Abdulfattoh Shafiev writes about Dushanbe’s efforts to control morality in Global Voices. Last week the government passed new amendments on a prostitution law–upping fines and introducing a potential two week jail sentence to sex workers caught plying their trade in the country. Also last week, Tajikistan’s first online sex shop opened. Shafiev digs through the range of responses to these developments by Tajiks–anger but also understanding with regard to sex workers. Tajikistan is the world’s most remittance-dependent country, with a significant portion of its male population abroad for work, leaving their wives to deal with Tajikistan’s fragile economy. One commenter wrote, defending the choice of women to engage in sex work, “If there were good jobs in Tajikistan, no-one would go to work in a brothel, that is for sure. Everyone wants to have a good life.”

Turkmenistan: “Turkmenistan’s government seems to be a bit out of step with reality. More so than usual, I mean,” Bruce Pannier begins in a piece on Qishloq Ovozi this week. After Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev made comments to a Russian paper about incidents along the Tajik and Turkmen borders with Afghanistan, Turkmen authorities pushed back. In convoluted diplo-speak, the Turkmen foreign ministry essentially said Nazarbayev didn’t know what he was talking about. Their brief release closed by expressing “the hope that the Kazakhstan side will use more relevant information in the future when assessing the situation in Turkmenistan.”

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“There is an abundance of ‘relevant information’ that suggests Nazarbayev was correct to express concerns,” Pannier writes. And indeed there is, not the least of which are recent reports that the Afghan military has chased Taliban militants to an island on the Amu Darya, the river that separates Afghanistan from Turkmenistan.

And just because: The New York Times published a story regarding a study that claims the modern dog originated in Central Asia.