Although only 65 years old, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon is looking towards succession. His son, now Mayor of Dushanbe, has emerged as the heir apparent; but, that is not to say that other family members are vying for influence. There are three main power bases in the country, each tied to one of Rahmon’s children. Whether these three power bases can find a balance will dictate the stability of Tajikistan.
Previously not regarded as problems for Kazakhstan, trade unionism and religious fundamentalism are emerging as potential threats to social and political stability. Incidents of industrial action and terrorist attacks in the West are ostensibly a precursor of the destabilisation predicted should any future transfer of power away from Nazarbayev prove to be chaotic.
Although nepotism, like corruption, has been a fixture of the Kazakh elite, there are no obvious presidential candidates in the Nazarbayev family itself. Succession plans, as such, have been turning into an art of guesswork, as Nazarbayev is guarding discussions from public consumption. Although the family has its own candidates, the future of Kazakhstan’s political leadership may well fall to individuals who are a degree, if not two, removed from the family.
Uzbekistan is on a path that is seeking to diverge from its past. It is shifting away from Russia and towards China; and, it is looking to introduce market transparency, initially through a concerted anti-corruption programme. Although the two policies can be viewed as progressive, they may not be able to co-exist over the long term.
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Although Moscow is keen to maintain some degree of influence over Kazakhstan, there are strong indications that Astana is repositioning its foreign policy focus. A careful balancing between East and West has been replaced by a marked shift towards anti-Russian defiance – seen in alternative foreign ties, internal social and cultural policies, and reshuffles of the political elite.
Although the life expectancy of Kazakh opposition parties is usually brief, rising social discontent is changing the equation. Disaffection with political governance is no longer limited to the grassroots, but increasingly resounding within the middle and business classes, and within elements of the ruling elite itself. This is feeding a resurgent opposition; but will change be orderly or chaotic.
With the 2018 presidential elections looming and the electoral campaign about to start, Russia’s political elite find themselves in disarray. The rumblings inside the Kremlin have it that the position of prime minister might soon become vacant – but who are the front runners, and what do they bring to the party?
With the presidential elections in less than a year, all domestic developments in Russia should be interpreted through the prism of the ongoing electoral campaign. While Putin’s re-election is not questioned, evolving international, economic and social context pose new challenges to his campaign, and intensify elite infighting.
Despite EuroMaidan and the promises of reform, Ukraine is struggling to attract foreign investment. Are the questionable ties that exist between business and politics self-sustaining in the country?
As the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev has inherited the problematic legacy of Islam Karimov. Over the past couple of months, Mirziyoyev has brought back his own allies, individuals once outlawed by his predecessor.
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Although 2016 was a successful year for Russia, to tackle recurrent domestic issues and to ensure a smooth transition in 2018 the Kremlin must capitalise on the favourable status-quo.
The fossil-fuelled character of the Azerbaijani economy experienced serious problems in 2016 on the back of low oil prices. It is anticipated that this crisis will deepen in 2017.
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