Covid-19 and Central Asian Over-Dependence on Labor Migration: An Update on the Central Asia Migration Tracker

The Central Asian republics, in particular Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, have become accustomed to exporting excess labor capacity, generating much-needed revenue for households, and relieving pressure on their governments to create jobs and provide public goods and services. But the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare the vulnerabilities of the region’s over-dependence on migration.

Revolution and Rising Discontent: An Update on the Central Asia Protest Tracker

Barely twenty-four hours after the polls closed in Kyrgyzstan’s flawed parliamentary election in October, protesters stormed and occupied the White House, the home of Kyrgyzstan’s executive and legislative branches. The people of Kyrgyzstan woke up the next morning to images of protesters drinking tea in President Soronbai Jeenbekov’s office while politicians who had just been sprung from prison held rallies on Ala-Too Square. Overnight, the protesters had managed to fracture Kyrgyzstan’s political status quo.

Introducing the Central Asia Migration Tracker

The long-term effects of migration from Central Asia are more negative than positive. Socially, migration is resulting in a brain drain, particularly in Kazakhstan, with the most talented and qualified Central Asians staying abroad permanently, degrading their countries’ social fabric. Economically, migration is making the region, particularly Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, even more vulnerable to external shocks and is disincentivizing the government from developing the economy. Politically, migration is serving as a pressure valve that prevents the buildup of unemployment-fueled social and political frustration and helps the undemocratic regimes to stay in power.

Mapping Patterns of Dissent in Eurasia: Introducing the Central Asia Protest Tracker

The Central Asia Protest Tracker (CAPT) dataset produced by a team at the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs mapped out a total of 981 incidents in the five Central Asian republics Kazakhstan (520 protests), Kyrgyzstan (351 protests), Tajikistan (27 protests), Turkmenistan (9 protests), and Uzbekistan (74 protests) from January 1, 2018 to August 31, 2020.

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