Kyrgyzstan will hold parliamentary elections on October 4 of this year. Currently more than 30 parties have already declared their eligibility for the elections and will compete for 120 seats in the Jogorku Kengesh, the Kyrgyz parliament and one of the most “dynamic” legislative bodies in the region. Elections in Kyrgyzstan have a relatively positive track record when compared to election practices in neighboring countries, although recently Kyrgyz democracy has been called into question by some in the West.
Due to conflicts in its relationship with the US and its accession to the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, some have begun to doubt the ability of the Kyrgyz government to hold truly fair elections. Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has drawn criticism for favoring laws deemed homophobic and xenophobic and has taken to promoting the theory that the US plans to overthrow the government in Bishkek. He has called for open and fair elections, however, and asked that future legislators, irrespective of their political party, emphasize rule of law and human rights.
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- Russia has formally submitted a claim to 1.2 million square kilometers of the Arctic sea shelf. Dominion of the Arctic Sea is largely undecided and a number of countries including Russia, the US, Norway and Canada have attempted to assert themselves in the geopolitically important region. The first time Russia submitted a claim was in 2002 although it was denied by the UN due to a lack of evidence.
- Azerbaijan and Iran announced plans to collaborate in high-tech and satellite communication projects. Azeri and Iranian officials already signed a joint cooperation agreement at least year’s BakuTel conference, and plan to renew and expand this commitment at BakuTel 2015 in Azerbaijan. The Azeri Economy and Industry Minister Shahin Mustafayev is also expected to visit Iran during the next few months and cooperation in high-technology and satellite communication are expected to be two of the pillars of any cooperation agreement reached.
- Car sales in Ukraine grew 54% in July relative to June, according to a report released by the Automotive Consulting Group. Analysts were quick to point out that auto sales are still significantly lower than those in 2014. For instance, in June 2015 automotive sales were down 58% from June 2014, at only 3,376 cars sold. Toyota, Renault and ZAZ are still the leaders in the Ukrainian automotive sector although Nissan, Ford, Mazda and Hyundai also have a presence.
- The Iranian state media has moved to silence critics of the recently-signed nuclear deal. The Iranian ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, a state-controlled media watchdog, suspended one hardline Iranian publication and issued a warning to two others that have criticized the nuclear deal as too generous. The main argument used by the newspapers is that if the nuclear deal were truly beneficial to Iran, there would be no need for the state to issue directives to the media to proclaim it a victory for Iran.
- The Uzbek government still stands in stark opposition to Tajikistan’s proposed Rogun dam, it announced earlier this week. The statement was made in response to the Tajik Minister of Energy Usmonali Usmonzoda who claimed that the Uzbek government no longer objected to the dam. The statement issued by the Uzbek government is perhaps not surprising due to the country’s dependency on high amounts of water to fuel its cotton industry
- The New York Times reports on an ongoing power struggle among the leadership of the Afghan Taliban. One of the top Taliban officials announced that he would resign earlier today due to disputes over who should lead the organization. Some have suggested that now presents a good opportunity for the Afghan government to negotiate a better relationship with the Taliban, although the progress of peace talks remains slow and uncertain.