Uzbekistan: Gas supplies resume to Kyrgyzstan

After roughly eight months, Uzbekistan has renewed gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan’s southern region. It is unclear what caused the reversal in policy, as the original grievance back in April 2014 was the lack of a new contract and when Kyrgyzstan sold its state gas company Kyrgyzgaz to Russian Gazprom for exactly $1 and commitments from the energy giant to perform a complete overhaul of the country’s gas and power infrastructure.

Tahir Alimov, deputy director of the Osh branch of Gazprom Kyrgyzstan, said that Uzbekistan started shipping gas to the Osh region last night at 3 am, with no explanation from any Uzbek officials. Kyrgyz officials have complained recently that Uzbek officials would not even pick up their telephone calls. However, recent developments would indicate that the pressure to reverse this policy came from Russia, and the timing with Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU, effective tomorrow, would suggest that some dealmaking on this issue occurred when Presidents Karimov and Putin met earlier in December and agreed to write off some $865 million in government debt.

Additionally, new agreements to ship Uzbekistan’s agricultural products to Russia, whose inflation levels for basic consumer products has reached 10% in comparison with prices during the summer, as well as promises from energy giant Lukoil to develop gas condensate fields in the Kandym-Khauzak-Shady-Kungrad zone, within the Bukhara-Khiva region of southwest Uzbekistan. Additional evidence that this was a critical point in Uzbek-Russian talks was that a member of the Russian delegation was Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov.

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News Briefs:

  • Two Azeri political prisoners were released yesterday after a presidential pardon was issued. They were members of the NIDA youth organization. This was part of a larger decree that included some 87 pardons for political crimes issued on Monday, perhaps as an attempt for damage control after the RFE/RL raid of the previous week. According to international human rights organizations, there are still some 90 political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
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