Who Controls Kyrgyz Drug Running?

The question of questions: Who sits on the Kyrgyz drug trafficking?

Nicholas Levine


Kyrgyzstan has announced that seriously begins to fight Afghan drug trafficking. How justified this claim? How long shall continue the struggle? And, as perceived efforts by their colleagues Kyrgyz Russian intelligence services? About this columnist “Fergana” Nikolay Levin spoke in Moscow with a senior representative of one of the Russian security services who wish not to publicize his name.

– This year you have visited in the Kyrgyz Republic on a business trip. How to assess the situation, which they formed?

– Well, if very brief, as was drug trafficking, and goes through Kyrgyzstan. The most serious danger, as you know, is the smuggling of opiates, primarily heroin. According to our estimates, through Kyrgyzstan from Afghanistan, annually receives about 20-25 tons of heroin and opium. In 2010, shipments grew up with traffic as the total lack of power prevented the fight in the country. Now its value is governed not so much the efforts of law enforcement, as the limited need for markets: Russia so much heroin to “digest” simply can not. Schemes, in general, are well known, the key organizers of this “business” too. I can not say that the intelligence agencies of this country just do nothing. In particular, the reconstituted Committee on Drug Control, which was eliminated under Bakiyev. This year, in cooperation with the Committee there have been several arrests, the latest hands-free operation was a joint near Ekaterinburg a few days ago. But the main stream of poison still passes narkobortsev.

– Why?

– I do not think it will reveal a great secret if I say that this “business” of the roof of the big men of force and other government agencies. Therefore, the local drug lords do not then they do not want to arrest, they can not even kick in, say, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

– You said that traffic patterns do not represent a singular mystery.

– Of course. Heroin comes first in the Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan. Then it different ways, including by foot and horse-drawn vehicles, brought to Kyrgyzstan, in Chon-Alai. From there, the road already, a white powder (in fact the Afghan heroin, more likely, cream-colored) vehicles delivered in the base in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Next shipment is sent by one of two routes.The first – in neighboring Uzbekistan. It’s only for ordinary people to the border is closed and the traffic – no. The second route – along the motorway and through the mountains in the Chui region. There again, there are two possibilities: either the heroin is sent to Kara-Balta, and from there to Kazakhstan and on to Russia, or warehoused in Bishkek, where a small portion is taken to various Russian cities by passenger flights, but the bulk is again being moved through Kazakh border for onward carriage to Russia.   (read HERE)

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism


NATO’s assault on Libya, a criminal imperialist war from the outset more than five months ago, has descended into an exercise in out-and-out murder as special forces operatives and intelligence agents hunt down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

From the beginning, the central objectives of this war have been to seize control of Libya’s oil reserves, the largest on the African continent, and carry out an imperialist show of force as a means of suppressing and diverting the mass popular movements that only months earlier had toppled the US and NATO-backed regimes of Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia.

“Operation United Protector,” as NATO dubbed its military onslaught, would have been more accurately described as “Operation Imperialist Gang Rape.” The US, Britain, France and Italy, each pursuing its own interests in Libya and the broader region, managed to unite for the common purpose of “regime-change.”

To achieve this aim, NATO warplanes carried out over 20 000 sorties, destroying schools, hospitals and homes and slaughtering untold numbers of Libyan soldiers, many of them young conscripts.

Flouting the terms of the United Nations resolution authorising “all means necessary” to protect civilians, NATO powers, including the US, France and Britain, sent in special forces troops, military contractor mercenaries and intelligence agents to arm, organize and lead the so-called “rebels,” whose primary function was to draw out Libyan government forces so they could be annihilated from the air.

The pretense that this was a war to protect civilians has been exposed as a moral obscenity, with the death toll in Tripoli alone climbing into the thousands and NATO bombs and missiles continuing to fall in heavily populated areas.

One has to go back to the 1930s when, as today, world capitalism was gripped by a desperate economic crisis to find fitting parallels. Then, mankind was stunned by the savage aggression unleashed in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Hitler’s backing of the Sudeten Germans to achieve the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, and the dispatch of the German Condor Legion to bomb Spain on behalf of Franco’s fascist insurgency.

At that time, these violent acts of aggression were seen as part of world capitalism’s descent into barbarism. Today in Libya, similar acts are proclaimed to be a flowering of “humanitarianism” and “democracy.”

During that period, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealed to the democratic sensibilities of the American people-while no doubt positioning the US for the pursuit of its own imperialist aims-by demanding a “quarantine” of fascist aggression.

He declared in 1937, “Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air.

Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others. Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane consideration.”

Those words from three quarters of a century ago read like an indictment of the Obama administration and the governments of Cameron, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

The Nuremberg trials after the Second World War established aggressive war as the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

This conception was incorporated into the United Nations, which barred “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Yet today within the political establishment there is virtually no criticism of the aggressive war carried out by the NATO allies. The scoundrels of the media have fully integrated themselves into the imperialist war machine, literally stepping over corpses and concealing the camera-shy Western dogs of war to better fashion their propaganda about “revolution” and “liberation” in Libya.

The driving force behind the Libyan war is imperialism, aptly described by Lenin as reaction all down the line. It is a war that has been pursued in the predatory interests of finance capital.

It is designed to produce what is being referred to widely in the financial press as a “bonanza,” not only for the major energy conglomerates, but for the banks and corporations, while underpinning the vast fortunes accumulated by the ruling elite by means of financial speculation, the driving down of labor costs in America and Europe, and the exploitation of low-wage labor the world over.

International gangsterism goes hand-in-hand with economic and political criminality at home. Aggression abroad is inseparable from the merciless assault on the living standards and basic rights of broad masses of working people in Europe, America and virtually every major country.

While workers are everywhere being told that there is no money to pay for jobs, education, health care, pensions or vital social services, billions are expended to bomb and invade Libya with no questions asked.

A striking feature of the Libya war is the way it has mobilized behind it a social-political layer of middle class ex-lefts, liberal academics and former protesters.

Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Allegedly Issues Afghan Victory Manifesto

Mullah Mohammad Omar source

AFGHAN Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has confirmed talks between the insurgency and the US, and laid out a manifesto for a Taliban government that protects private business, exploits the country’s mineral wealth and maintains good foreign relations.

An internet message purportedly written by the one-eyed militant to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr claims the Afghan insurgency is close to victory, citing recent foreign troop casualties, Taliban expansionism and the killing of a string of high-level Afghan officials. “All these give us good news of an imminent victory and a bright future,” it said.

This month was the deadliest for US forces in the nearly decade-long conflict, with 66 troops killed, 30 of them when a helicopter was shot down on August 6.

The message appeared to acknowledge mistakes of the former Taliban regime overthrown in October 2001, and seemed aimed at projecting a more mature face to an international community hoping to negotiate an exit from the war in Afghanistan. “The future transformations and developments would not resemble the developments following the collapse of communism, when everything of the country was plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely,”it said.

“Contrarily, strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector. Professional cadres and national businessmen will be further encouraged, without any discrimination, to serve their religion and their country.”

It confirmed talks between the US and the Taliban, although negotiations were restricted to prisoner release and did not represent “comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country”.

Afghan and US officials this week confirmed secret direct talks between Taliban and US representatives collapsed after Afghan officials leaked details for fear President Hamid Karzai was being sidelined.

On three occasions US officials met Taliban negotiator Tayyab Aga, primarily to discuss the release of US army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured more than two years ago, in return for Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bagram Air Field near Kabul.

But Omar warned in his message there could be no negotiated end to the conflict without the full withdrawal of all foreign troops. A “limited withdrawal” that left behind US military bases would “in no way solve the issue of Afghanistan”, he said.

In what appeared a softening toward the Karzai administration, he insisted the Taliban did not seek to monopolise power. He called on Taliban fighters to pursue self-improvement through daily exercise, reading and religion, and to avoid extortion, kidnapping or random bans that hurt the common man. Intelligence analysts Stratfor said Omar’s message, and recent willingness to negotiate, suggested the Taliban leader was attempting to build support within and outside of Afghanistan in preparation for the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops and the inevitable civil war.

“By opting for negotiations the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation,” Stratfor said. “This tactic does not mean the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.”

Ma`a as-salaamah Mohammad….. May Allah protect you!

Ma`a as-salaamah Mohammad….. May Allah protect you!


Franklin Lamb




My roommate left our hotel and hopefully Libya last night for his village near Arlit, Niger thanks to the assistance of one of Tripoli’s Christian Churches.  I shall miss him a lot.

It was a recently formed human rights group from the Coptic Orthodox (Egyptian) Church in Tripoli, working to protect blacks from the still lawless Tripoli streets that enabled my roommate to depart this hotel.  The Coptic Church, according to their Prelate here, has the largest Christian communion in Libya with normally 60,000 parishioners and has roots in Libya going back hundreds of years before the Arabs spread westward from Egypt.

Mohammad departed none too soon since “security personnel” arrived at the Corinthia Hotel close to 1 p.m. this afternoon (8/28/11) with gunmen and two “Generals” in fine new uniforms complete with epaulets. Their surprise visit was to check the hotel rooms for Kaddafi supporters. They claimed they had received “reports.”

The Copts did a good job in getting Mohammad to safety.  Most observers here agree that for the immediate future there will be a whirlwind of wild speculation, accusations and even some serious examination of Moammar Kaddafi’s leadership of Libya these past four decades. One fact however is incontrovertible to this observer and it is that under Kaddafi, Christians, whether Roman Catholic, Anglican Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox, the main Christian sects here, have been well treated and allowed virtually complete freedom to practice their beliefs and to celebrate their traditions with some restrictions placed on campaigns to proselytize Muslims of which they have not been any since the Mormons and the “Way of the Cross” evangelicals  left some years back.

Most of the churches here currently have volunteers working to help their Muslim sisters and brothers during this cataclysmic period. My friend Mohammad is one whose life they may have saved.

Mohammad and I have been secretly sharing my room for more than a week since I accidently discovered him hiding and trembling in the hotel’s garden bushes shortly after the rebel entrance into Tripoli.  It was easy to calm Mohammad down and I brought him a shirt from my room, as his was filthy.

Mohammad is a black African devout Muslim and one fine man. When I saw him looking up at me and trembling my thoughts instantly turned to 21-year-old black Mississippian, James Chaney, and the date could have been June 21, 1964. That was when Neshoba County’s law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan hunted blacks to kill and did kill James and his white companions Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner

The reason Mohammad was hiding outside the Corinthia hotel is that he feared for his life as so many, if not most, black Africans and black Libyans (roughly one third of Libya’s population) do these days. Bands of young rebel “freedom fighters” are still roaming some of Tripoli’s streets, itching it seems, to kill some “African mercenaries”, meaning, it appears, any black man they can find. Although the apparently politically contrived rumors of African mercenaries raping Libyan women which helped NATO get the UN Security Council to green light its bombing and regime change campaign, have been debunked as fake by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and a UN fact finding group, some of the macho young rebels in Libya still insist the smear campaign is true.

Mohammad explained to me that he was never a fighter for anyone in Libya but rather that his employment background, like his father, uncles and brothers, was in Niger’s uranium mines which only the past few years have begun to recover from the late 1980’s collapse. Mohammad’s brother Said was killed in the Tuareg Rebellion of the 1990’s and his father sent Mohammad to Libya to work in construction.

I agreed with Mohammad that he could stay secretly with me until we could get him into safe hands.  The hotel has never been the wiser to my knowledge although my friend Ismail, who works behind the front desk when he is not doing a dozen other jobs during his frequent 16 hour shifts, probably suspected something was going on because he would give me knowing glances as I disappeared toward the elevator with a table cloth covering a big plate of food and contrary to hotel rules of no hotel kitchen food in the rooms.  Luckily Ismail is a black Libyan and, if he knew, he did not rat us out.

With no security at our hotel until the day before yesterday and now packed with journalists, Mohammad took extra precautions and never left room # 1185 except for one night when someone from the Coptic Church came to meet with him in another room and I gave his floor spot to a French activist from Beirut whose boat to Alexandria was delayed again.

Housekeeping, no longer exists at this hotel, and so no one has entered my room for almost two weeks since the staff fled.  In any case Mohammad and I had a good cover story ready in case events demanded one.  Mohammad, we would explain if caught, was a driver for the Italian Embassy before the Italians temporarily pulled up stakes back in March.

I got pretty good at fixing plates of food for Mohammad from the nightly “Iftar buffet.” Because we are both fasting for Ramadan, smuggling Mohammad food only once a day was easy enough, especially as some of the new hotel guests, being journalists from the Rixos Hotel or rushing here to cover the “Fall of Tripoli” from around Libya, are now in the habit of fixing their dinner plates and sitting around the abandoned hotel restaurants. This way they have more space and privacy from the cramped conditions in the rapidly deteriorating “dining room” or their working area.

Personally, this Ramadan, the Iftar feast no longer has appeal for me because we have the very same food every Iftar which now comes almost entirely from cans. At noon today, the Hotel Front Desk posted the most recent Dear Guest Notice. It reads:  “Dear Guests:  Please be advised that there will be no lunch today due to absence of water supply in the Hotel.   We hope for a water delivery this afternoon and hope to serve dinner tonight at 18:30.  Thank you.  The Corinthia Hotel Management.”  No water arrived and when I and an American lady who works for the Sunday Times returned from driving thru Tripoli’s center,  at 7:50 p.m. just in time for Iftar, mine consisted of walking through the dining area picking leftover food bits from  plates where diners had eaten and left.

Before Mohammad left, he helped me with my infected leg and told me about a nearby Dr. which made me happy since no others have been available this past week.  But as dear reader may come to understand, I soon became reluctant to seek treatment from the Dr. who Mohammad recommended although by very great coincidence I have known her wonderful granddaughter, an Arabic-English language interpreter named Aya, for several weeks.

My most recent best bet for immediate medical assistance was my new friend Dr. XX, “Consultant Urological Surgeon” from the British Medical Center here in Tripoli (formerly the Swiss Medical Center until Hannibal Kaddafi had that unfortunate problem with Swiss authorities last winter and his Dad wanted to abolish Switzerland and all things Swiss), hence the fast name change on the Clinic building.   Dr. XX is from New Delhi but studied in England and now normally resides in Sheffield, England.  He spent the past year working here in Libya, loves the people and the country and was most willing to help me.  The problem was that he had to rush to catch the boat out of here for Malta yesterday.  Anyhow, he said I had a couple of days left before I would possibly have major leg problems and he  gave me the phone numbers of two of his colleagues, one an Indian dentist.  So far the phones still don’t work well in Tripoli.

Just a word of background about  Dr. Fatima, recommended by Mohammad now that I am resigned to get treatment late today, come what may, following my brief meeting with the good Dr. this morning.

Dr.  Fatima is very thin, quite tall, has an unusually large head and a red scarf covers part of her face which is stained blue.  Aya explained that while Dr. Fatima is by background Muslim, her Saharan tribe retains some pre-Islamic rites and customs and is genealogically connected with the Delvar Nar. Yet  Aya also told me that Fatma’s tribe claims that they are linked with the Angels mentioned in Luke 24:4 where Christ’s apostle  describes the scene at Jesus’s tomb when two angels appeared to Mary. Anyhow….

Aya says Dr.  Fatima is capable of teleportation, telekinesis and ESP and while I don’t need any of that stuff just now, but could later, Dr. Fatima fortunately is also expert in Saharan medicine including leg infections.  So the good news is that I am very soon to be in experienced medical hands. I have no doubt about that and I shall always be grateful to my friend Mohammad for the referral.

The down side may be what Aya told me about what her grandmother must do to make me well. This may be the tough part for someone who nearly collapses if some nurse even hints that she wants to stick a needle in me.  Aspirin is about the only medicine I have ever taken because my half German sainted Mother did not believe in her large brood getting sick and we all minded her over the years.

Dr. Fatima’s “clinic” is in the Medina not far from my Hotel and the area is coming back to life as some citizens are beginning to peak out and emerge from their homes.  Hundreds of shops and outdoor tables with all kinds of new and used goods have been closed for more than a week. Even the lovely Chadian hospitality ladies who I have good reason to believe rent themselves from dirt floor rooms off the ancient streets of the medina for ten Libyan dinars an hour (about $8) or 16 dinar ($ 12.80)  for two hostesses, (three additional dinars per hour for air conditioning in the room –highly recommended!) have vanished.    This sad fact alone, according to one of the guys from the UN delegation that ten days ago got permission from NATO to fly from Tripoli airport to Tunis for R & R and to assess their “findings,” is reason enough for the UNSC to immediately end NATO’s carnage in Libya.

I admit to being a little apprehensive because Aya told me one of the Chadian ladies, who recently returned and works as a nurse for Dr. Fatima, must first slice my  wound in narrow lines and then rub and wash it thoroughly with Saharan sand and some nasty looking green paste of Sarahan vegetation and insect fluids.

While I sat thinking how that is going to feel, Aya seems to have read my expression and assures me that everything will be ok because her granny also makes a strong alcoholic drink out of Saharan cactus and I will drink some and feel fine.

 “Well, why not we just use that drink rather than sand to cleanse the wound”? I ask.

  Aya gave me one of her, “You stupid American!” glances that communicates, “Please don’t bother to question we who know what’s best for you!”

Aya also promises me that after my “treatment” the now returning Chadian ladies will take care of me for the expected three day recovery period. I immediately feel better.

 If fate rules that these next few days in fact comprise my last chapter, and never having had much interest in being with virgins, the company of these angels will certainly be as close to Heaven as this hayseed from rural Oregon will likely get.


US Senator Lindsay Graham Meets with Uzbek President Karimov

Uzbekistan: US Senator Meets with President Karimov

Uzbekistan:  US Senator Meets with President Karimov
Presidential Press Service of Uzbekistan
Sen. Lindsey Graham and Amb. George Krol at President Karimov’s residence, August 27, 2011
Sen. Graham’s last attempt to see President Karimov after Uzbek riots in 2005

US Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina was received by President Islam Karimov at his residence in Tashkent on August 27, Uzbek state media reported. Ambassador George Krol, the new US envoy to Tashkent, also attended the meeting. Uzbek TVquoted Karimov as saying Uzbekistan “highly values relations” with the US and has seen “great positive things in our relations, especially most recently.“ According to the typically filtered government reports, the American senator was said to discuss resolution of the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan and ways to stabilize the region.

Gov.uz quoted Graham as stressing the importance of economic renewal and solving social problems in Afghanistan. While official reports didn’t specifically mention the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) which supplies NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, no doubt the senator discussed Tashkent’s crucial role in helping the NDN. Uzbekistan is known to serve as a key transit air hub through Termez and has supplied food and fuel by train as well. The US has been actively involved in promoting business and economic opportunities around the NDN, seeing it as important to security of the region and an evenutal “Silk Road” to prosperity.

Sen. Graham is not a member of the Central Asian Caucus in Congress. Yet he is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and could have a role in deciding whether and how much US assistance is given to the Uzbek government. Under legislation passed in 2004, US military assistance is banned until progress is certified in Uzbekistan on human rights and economic reforms.

Graham, a military lawyer who actually performed an active-duty stint in Afghanistan last year, appears mainly concerned over South Carolina’s failure last year to obtain federal funds for public school jobs and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study to deepen the Charleston port,McClatchy reports. Yet his position on a powerful Senate committee means he will also have a say in funding the Pentagon, the war in Afghanistan and other related projects like helping Uzbekistan.

Following the Andijan massacre in May 2005, the conservative Sen. Graham accompanied Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other US senators to meet with Uzbek opposition members and eyewitnesses, and called for a complete investigation in the atrocities, saying at that time that continuation of the relationship was “very difficult, if not impossible, if a government continues to repress its people,” airforce-magazine.com reported. Uzbek officials refused to meet with the senators, and ultimately served an eviction notice on the US, which left the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) airbase it had been leasing.

The question is whether the US needs Uzbekistan so much that it will start waffling on the aid certification. While the State Department is likely to continue to name Uzbekistan a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for its violation of religious freedom, it failed to downgrade Uzbekistanon its annual assessment of global trafficking in persons, despite Tashkent’s lack of progress.

Uzbekistan has not done anything substantive to improve its human rights record , but it has done the next best thing, shy of actual change: created a commission to monitor allegations of the use of forced child labor — which it continues to deny despite reports — and drafted a national human rights action plan .

The “action plan” is a creature of multilateral institutions as well as bilateral relations, where foreign interlocutors try to devise “benchmarks” or incremental steps towards eventual human rights compliance by urging the drafting of plans, training seminars, and progress reports. Like other massive abusers of human rights, Tashkent has learned that just the gesture of drafting a plan, without at all putting it into practice, is enough to keep its foreign critics happy. The new plan contains easy giveaways like a pledge to honor international legal standards over local law — but not release from prison or registration of the activists who actually ensure such rights are protected. Even so, some human rights lawyers are hoping to take the government at its word to push for reforms, and the State Department can now point to this “progress.”

While a few political prisoners have been released from imprisonment in a token gesture, other human rights activists and religious believers continue to be harassed and imprisoned, making certification hard to envision.

Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet


Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet 

Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Executive summary
Turkmenistan’s telecommunications services are considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Poor growth in telecom services can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities.
Overall, the telecom market in this poor and predominantly rural country is relatively small but has been trying boldly to expand in recent years. The state-owned Turkmen Telecom has been the primary provider of public telephone, email and Internet services, and through a subsidiary has also been operating a GSM mobile network in competition with a private mobile operator, BCT (BCT became MTS Turkmenistan in 2005). Combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity was around 40% in early 2010. Not surprisingly it has been the mobile services that have been dominating the expansion activity. In 2008 the country saw annual subscription growth in excess of 140%, although growth slowed significantly to about 33% in 2009. As a consequence, in a two-year period Turkmenistan, one of the smallest markets in the region, saw its mobile penetration jump from 8% to 30%.
It had certainly not been smooth sailing over the 2008/09 period as the mobile operators felt the impact of the global financial crisis on their revenues. The monthly ARPU recorded by BCT in Turkmenistan fell more than 70% to less than €10 by the fourth quarter of 2008. The fall was mainly due to the Central Bank of Turkmenistan changing the exchange rate for the Turkmenistani manat (TMM) from 5,200 to the US dollar in December 2007 to 14,250 in mid-2008. By May 2010 the exchange was still 14,250TMT to one US dollar. In local currency terms, BCT’s ARPU fell 24%, from TMM250 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to TMM189 in the fourth quarter of 2008, because of the further dilution of its customer base with the increased level of subscriptions.
Growth of the Internet sector had been seriously stifled back in 2000 when the four existing independent ISPs were forced out of business due to the government’s decision to grant Turkmen Telecom a monopoly over data services. The abrupt closure of the ISPs was consistent with government policy, which required tight control over all communications in the country. Internet access continued to be severely restricted, and the few Internet cafes that existed in Ashgabat were closed down in 2002.
After two decades of repression, the incoming president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, announced in early 2007 that the government had re-opened Internet cafes in the capital Ashgabat and was set to follow this move in regional centres. One hour of computer time cost about US$4, however, a high price in a country where two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line and the average monthly income was less than US$100. It was not immediately clear how far these reforms would go. By 2010 it was evident that the new president was keeping his promise about keeping the Internet cafes open. There were still considerable restrictions on the use of Internet, however.
Market highlights:

By early 2010 mobile subscribers in Turkmenistan were still relatively low in number, having just passed the 1.5 million mark, being a penetration of almost 30%;
For a number of previous years, growth had been outstanding; mobile subscriber numbers increased by almost 300% in the two year period 2008/09;
The country’s mobile subscriber base was still expanding but the rate had slowed in the second half of 2009 and into 2010;
Fixed-line penetration in Turkmenistan was struggling to break through the 10% penetration barrier, and 2009 had seen the fixed market virtually stagnating and it was not clear where further growth would come from;
Although no updated official figures were available, progress on converting the country’s fixed network from analogue to digital was slow; by 2010 the conversion program still had a long way to go;
Internet growth in the country had been hindered by severe government controls until 2007 when there was an apparent easing of restrictions; this has not, however, seen the expected lift in Turkmenistan’s Internet usage; again, it was hard to confirm the precise situation with the limited official figures available;
There were early signs of broadband Internet access being made available in the country; but a low broadband penetration of 0.05% in 2009 did not look promising.Turkmenistan – key telecom parameters – 2009 – 2010
Category20092010 (e)
Fixed-line services:
Total number of subscribers478,000488,000
Annual change0%2%
Fixed-line penetration (population)9.4%9.4%
Mobile services:
Total number of subscribers (million)1.52.0
Annual change32%33%
Mobile penetration (population)29%38%
(Source: BuddeComm)
This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Turkmenistan. Subjects covered include:

Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
Major operators (mobile and fixed);
Regulatory environment;
Mobile market;
Internet market.

Web and Mobile Status Report, Central Asia

Kazakhstan & Central Asia Telecommunications Report Q3 2011 

Business Monitor International

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Business Monitor International’s Central Asia Telecommunications Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, telecommunication associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Central Asia’s telecommunications industry.

BMI’s Q311 update on the telecoms markets of Kazakhstan and its four Central Asian neighbours is built on new mobile subscriber data for Q111, ending March 31 2011, regulatory data and local press reports. Using this data, we have revised our five-year growth forecasts for the development of the region’s five mobile markets. In addition, we have reviewed our five-year forecasts for the development of Central Asia’s fixed and mobile broadband subscriber markets this quarter. Therefore, we include customers who use devices such as netbooks and USB sticks to connect to the internet wirelessly through a high-speed (3G/HSPA) network; however, we do not include smartphone users, only dedicated mobile data subscriptions. In the past few months, operators in countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been have been introducing various promotions, to encourage greater data customer growth and service usage.
In December 2010 Kyrgyzstan became the latest Central Asian republic to introduce third-generation (3G) mobile services, although LTE networks had already been launched in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in 2010 by Kazakh mobile market leader K-Cell, which is owned by the Nordic carrier TeliaSonera, and Uzdunrobita operating as MTS Uzbekistan. BMI forecasts that mobile broadband services based on UMTS/HSPA and LTE technology will make a strong contribution to the growth of internet services in Central Asia because of the limited scope of fixed broadband growth due to a lack of existing infrastructure, income-constrained demand and challenging geography. Our new broadband forecasts for Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan envisage stronger growth as a result of the impact of mobile broadband services. In the long term, BMI believes the spread of mobile broadband services have the potential to stifle the success of competing wireless technologies such as WiMAX and satellite. Meanwhile, in November 2010 3G services were launched in Turkmenistan when MTS Turkmenistan launched a 3G network in the capital Ashgabat. However, the following month it was announced that MTS’ operating licence had been suspended by the Turkmen government. At the time of writing, MTS remained offline and was proceeding with its lawsuit against two state-owned operators Turkmentelecom and mobile subsidiary Altyn Asyr, regarding the termination of interconnection agreements. BMI believes the revocation of MTS’ licence will be to the detriment of the Turkmen market in terms of a loss of competition and international expertise.

The Russian foreign ministry announced on March 7 2011 that it will protect the interests of local telecoms operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) in its dispute with Turkmenistan. MTS has itself responded by writing to international firms with the aim of discouraging them from investing in Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan has expressed its interest in initiating negotiations with the Russian operator on the buyout of its assets in the country.

The situation became a political issue beyond telecoms after the military were called in to control crowds in early April 2011, after hundreds of customers stormed Altyn Asyr stores when it suspended the distribution of SIM cards due to network congestion problems. The operator began offering vouchers that could be used to acquire a SIM card from May 2011. Only public officials or foreign nationals are currently being issued SIM cards. One positive ramification from the SIM issuance suspension is the political pressure it applies to the Turkmen leadership. Earlier in April, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was forced to respond to the political implications of the SIM shortage by criticising the operator’s poor service. He argued poor work organisation is the cause of the low efficiency. He demanded measures be taken immediately to guarantee the high quality of mobile services across the country and obliged the government to establish private companies and joint ventures with foreign businesses. Huawei Technologies and Nokia Siemens Networks have since won contracts for an urgent upgrade of the Altyn Asyr network, according to local reports.