Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will no longer seek to boost Russia’s sagging economy through an influx of government spending. The move turned heads in the international press given that Putin, along with his minister of economy, had initially voiced their support for the measure. The announcement was coupled with a statement released by the Russian Finance Ministry urging Russia’s central bank to promote fiscally conservative policies in order to curb inflation and keep capital outflow down. Capital outflow had previously been a large source of concern for Russian economic officials, and has only continued to rise due to fall-out over the Ukraine crisis.
A drop in investment activity, coupled with already mentioned capital outflow concerns, could lead the Russian economy into a recession. Russia’s economy already shrunk by half a percentage point during the first three months of 2014, and given the present circumstances, could continue to dip as the year continues. The decision to withhold an immediate Russian stimulus plan suggests, however, that Putin’s inner circle is not yet overly concerned over the state of the Russian economy, and will continue to gauge its growth over the following several months. Nevertheless, if the last few months are any indicator, Russian economic growth is linked closely to sentiments surrounding Moscow’s political considerations, a factor that may prove unfavorable for Moscow if it follows through on threats to invade neighboring Ukraine.
- Kashmiri rebels seeking to overshadow voting in Indian Kashmir shot and killed three local village leaders. The act of violence has drawn condemnation from Indian authorities, who have levied the blame on Hizbul Mujahideen, a leading militant group in the region, and have described it as an effort to impede democracy and prevent Kashmiris from practicing democracy.
- Security forces in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan announced the increase in drug seizures along their respective borders. Tajik authorities have seized more than 1.2 tons of drugs, and made several detentions, while in southern Uzbekistan, more than 100kg were confiscated. In both cases, the reports listed Afghan smugglers at those responsible for the drug operations.
- Tajik officials held an award ceremony in Dushanbe, the nation’s capital, to recognize the efforts of women farmers. The ceremony was designed to increase the amount of women involved in farming in rural Tajikistan, and was highlighted by the distribution of cash and material prizes to Tajikistan’s noted female agriculturalists.
- Silk Road Reporters provides a look at a rise in polygamy within the upper echelons of Uzbek society. An increase in the taking of multiple wives has been ascribed to an increase in Islamic practice in addition to an increase in wealth among Uzbekistan’s elite.
- Iran’s Deputy Road Minister announced that foundations for a railway corridor connecting Iran, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and China have been laid, and that Iranian companies have mapped out a 63km stretch linking Afghanistan to Iran. Though the foundations have been laid, Iranian officials stated that they are awaiting financing from the Afghan government in order to begin construction.