Friday, February 28, 2014

Russian Far East and Chinese Immigration : Impacts

                                This week i discusses on the socio-economic impact of Chinese immigration to the border provinces of Russian Far East.I would like to focus on the Far Eastern province of  'Primorskiy Kray' which includes the port city of Vladivostok.According to a study conducted by the Carnegie endowment for international peace, a typical Chinese migrant to this part of  Russia is "poor, presevering, modest, hungry for earnings of any size, and brutally exploited by his own countrymen with the silent approval of the Russians." According to Visa and Registration Department (OVIR) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of  Russia for Primorskiy Kray, the total number of Chinese migrants incresed from 35,000 in 1995 to 80,000 by 2000. At the same time Chinese government calculates that the Chinese diaspora of former Soviet Union comes only 1 % of the  world Chinese diaspora.Most of the Chinese immigrants to Russia's Primoskiy Kray belongs to three provinces of the Chinese North East : Heilongjiang, Jilian, and Liaoning.More than half of the Chinese immigrants are high school or college educated and they look for quick money from their Russian adventure. Various studies show that these young Chinese migrants are not looking to settle in Russia but use it as a transit point to save money and move further to more advanced countries of the West.Or,in other words very few Chinese migrants are really settling in Russia in a permanent basis.Chinese migrants to Russia engage in agriculture, construction and trade.A good number of Chinese entered in Russia  on a tourist visa and end up as small scale trders or business men.

                             Chinese goods have a great say over the economy of the Russian Far East.The disintegration of Soviet Union economically broken this part of Russia. Russia' s huge geographical size, Moscow's negligience towards Russian Far East and Russia's poor financial condition exacrbated this problem.In reality Chinese saved the Russian Far East from that desperate condition.Even now both Chinese consumer goods and agricultural goods controls the Russian Far Eastern market.An average Russian could not afford the goods which are imported from either United States or Europe.At the same time Chinese goods are considered as cheap in quality but less expensive.The bargaining system of the Chinese markets are also attracting the cash- strapped Russians.Russian businessmen also benefitted through appointing Chinese labourers and conducting 'shuttle trade' with the Chinese markets.But various studies show that local Russians are not happy with Chinese presence but their economic difficulties force them to accomoodate their southern neighbour.Russians also percieve that Chinese and Chinese government are beneficial out of trade between Russians and Chinese.They think that Chinese benefited out of Russian raw materials such as timber and iron and exchange Russia with the cheap Chinese consumer goods (it is observed that China is following the same strategy in Africa too).

                          The biggest fear of the local Russians are that the eventual Chinese occupation of  Primoskiy Kray and other parts of the Russian Far East.The huge population mismatch between Russian side and Chinese side is justifying this doubt. Russians find that 2.2 million Slavs of  Kray is not a match for the 38 million people of the Heilongjiang province across the frontier.As Vice Chancellor of the Far Eastern Government Service Academy rightly observes that : "the population of Khasan rayon of Primorskiy Kray is 65,000, while 2 million people in North Korea and 20 million in China live on the territory of equalk size across the border from Khasan". China's historical claim over this region also exaceberates the Russian doubt but still Russia confident enough of its military power.But Russians also find that the near future is really uncertain.Russians even fears that Chinese may simply annex this part  of Russia without even a single shot thanks to China's hugh population.So majority of local Russians want to strictly regulate the Chinese inroads into their territory. But at the same time local Russians in general appreciate the positive aspects of the Chinese migration such as cheap labour and less expensive Chinese consumer goods.Russians also respect Chinese work ethics but socially considered Chinese as distant aliens who are not willing to assimilate but have a tendency to impose their culture over others.

                            In general Chinese immigration to Russia cannot perceive as 'immigration' but only a 'migration'.In general Chinese do not want to settle in Russia but want to make quick money at the expense of Russians.In other side Russian Far East is still not completely recovered from the disintegration of the Soviet Union.Russian Far East badly needs Chinese support for its survival.The lack of population in this part of Russian Federation also increases the vulnerability of Russians.Right now it is very difficult to predict the future of this part of the world but it is very difficult to believe that Russia will simply abandon this part of its territory without any resistance.


1) Alexseev, Mikhail A (2001), "Socioeconomic and Security Implications of Chinese Migration in the Russian Far East," Post - Soviet geography and economics, 42 (2) : 122-141.

2) Kontorovich, Vladimir (2000), "Can Russia Resettle the Far East ?" Post-Communist Economies, 12 (3) : 365 - 384.

Political Islam and Regulation of Religious Material in Uzbekistan

Hizb ut-Tahrir in Uzbekistan
                Another political organization in the spotlight of the Uzbek government is the political Islamic party of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  The party calls for the unification of all Muslims to create a caliphate, which is a political structure based on Sharia law.  The influence of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) eventually reached from Palestine to Uzbekistan in the late 1990s.  The government of Uzbekistan has banned HT and has carried out widespread arrests of its members.  In 1999, dozens of HT members allegedly possessing weapons and ammunition were arrested in the Andijan region [1].  Since then, numerous reports suggest that many of the alleged HT members are tortured and die in the prison colonies.  To this day, arrests of alleged HT members continue in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. 
                The conversation concerning the alleged membership of these individuals is somewhat conflicting.  While an article on the HT’s Russia site states that some of those arrested in Andijan were “alleged” members, their testimony in court suggests that they proclaim their affiliation with HT and call for the creation of the Islamic state (caliphate) and its supremacy [2].  According to the article, the detainees “warned that the Islamic State will soon be revived, and they (the judges and prosecutors) will have to answer for all of their misdeeds. . . that all systems of government except for the Islamic system are incorrect.”  While the alleged affiliation to HT of recent detainees should initially be questioned, it certainly appears that some of these individuals openly promote their dedication to the organization and its cause.  The article reveres these individuals as martyrs, for “they are willing to make sacrifices and are willing to wage an ideological and political struggle.”  Although the official stance from an HT center in London claims to promote non-violent approaches to political struggle, it remains to be seen to what extent this call for non-violence is recognized by HT members in Uzbekistan in the near future. 
Uzbek State Legislation Regarding Religious Material
On 20 January 2014, the upper house of the Uzbek parliament (Oliy Majlis) signed into law a series of restrictions pertaining to the distribution and creation of religious materials.  While previous reports suggested that this law was already enforced in a de-facto manner, the January legislation represents the formal codification of this policy [3].  The first section of the bill called for the organization of a bureaucratic framework to be made within a month to implement the regulations.  Section two (points 5-8) require that any manufacturing of religious material must first be approved by this regulatory apparatus, and that the publisher’s name, address, and number of circulations be listed.  Section three outlines the responsibility of Uzbek customs control to seize incoming unauthorized media and forward them to the regulatory body.  Section four regulates the sale and distribution of any authorized materials, including requiring all sales and exchanges to be documented.  This section also prohibits the distribution of material with fundamentalist or anti-state themes (among many others).  This legislation also concerns religious material posted on the internet. 
                The government of Uzbekistan is very interested in regulating the distribution of religious materials, but the power to define what material is religious, provocative, anti state, etc. is vested in this regulatory committee.  Listed in this legislation are not only a variety of prohibited themes, but forms of media (print, CD, DVD, internet) as well.  Deputy Prime Minister Adkham Ikramov is cited in the legislation with the obligation to implement the measures.
                The January legislation can be expected to have a profound impact on social, religious, and political organization and mobilization throughout the near future.  Recalling the instability and violence of the late 1990s in the Fergana valley, it is most likely that the Uzbek government is seeking to prevent similar conflagrations by placing these controls on the production and distribution of media.  The broad definition of banned material, however, suggests that the regulation of specifically religious material will not be the sole outcome of this legislation.

1.      1. Memorial.  Organization which documents political activities in the former Soviet space. "Chast' 1. Spisok lits, osuzhdennykh ili arestovannykh v Uzbekistane v 1999 g. po politicheskim i religioznym motivam i obvinennykh v sovershenii prestupleniy, ne svyazannykh s nasiliyem"
2.      2. El'dar, Hamzin.  Hizb ut-Tahrir CIS.  "Khizb ut-Takhrir v Uzbekistane prodolzhit svoy prizyv do Sudnogo Dnya, c soizvoleniya Vsevyshnego Allakha!" January 1, 2013.
3.      3.  Record from the legislative session of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan.  January 20, 2014.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What is the Russian Brand of International Law?

Before understanding how Russia's recent actions - particularly negotiating with Iran on an oil deal, but also its foreign agents bill, Syria, etc. - affect the "legitimacy" of international law, it is important to see what is Russia's strategy to approaching international law. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia and the former Soviet Republics have rejected the Soviet dualist approach to implementation of international law in domestic legal systems. [1] Included in the 1993 constitution of the Russian Federation are clauses that Russia accepts the treaties by which the Soviet Union was bound (importantly keeping its spot on the UN Security Council), and Article 15(4) provides that "the generally recognized principles and norms of international law and the international treaties of the Russian Federation shall constitute an integral part of its legal system." So integral that it includes that it states "if an international treaty of the Russian Federation establishes other rules than those stipulated by the law, the rules of the international treaty shall apply." [2]

From the plain language of the text, it would seem that Russia has a broad application of international law. However, the writers' optimism does not guarantee international law will have such strength. The actual status of international in Russia is determined by a few factors including the nature and applicability of the law, democratic institutions, rule of law, and participation in international institutions. [3]

With Russia accepting the treaties that bound the Soviet Union and using treaties to form its domestic law, it seems that international law's status in Russia places treaties in very high regard. Such actions make sense, especially since it let Russia keep a spot on the UN Security Council. On the other hand, how does Russia hold customary international law? One important element of customary international law is opinio juris, which gives a state conform to what they believe to be a legal obligation. [4] Although the UN Security Council imposed some sanctions on Iranian nuclear development, it has not placed restrictions on Iranian trade. However, it has been the custom of nations to place restrictions or sanctions on Iranian trade to further enforce UN Security Council sanctions.

With Russia being a permanent member of the Security Council that placed such restrictions, why does Russia not feel a legal obligation to place its own sanctions on Iranian trade like most nations? One suggestion is that because Russia holds treaties in such high regard, it dismisses customary international law. Zimnenko in "International Law and the Russian Legal System" asserts that Russia only uses to international norms to interpret national legal norms. [5] Another suggestion is that Russia does not see this as a legal issue at all, but rather political, seeing as the West are the majority of the supporters on Iranian sanctions. Or rather, Russia sees the political advantages of establishing trade with Iran substantially outweigh following international norms or implicitly enforcing UN sanctions. Regardless, the Russian brand of international law leaves one wanting to know the extent to which politics affects Russia's application, or lack thereof, of international legal norms.


[1] and [3] - Danilenko, Gennady M. "Implementation of International Law in CIS States: Theory and Practice." European Journal of International Law 1st ser. 10 (1999): 51. Web.
[2] - "Konstitutsiya Rossiiskoi Federatsii" Konstitutsiya Rossiiskoi Federatsii. N.p., n.d. Web. 2014.

[4] - Janis, Mark W., and Mark W. Janis. "Customary International Law." International Law. New York: Aspen, 2008. 48. Print.
[5] - Zimnenko, B. L., and William Elliott Butler. International Law and the Russian Legal System. Utrecht: Eleven International, 2007. Print. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Obshchinas and the Indigenous People of the Sakha Republic

The Obshchinas and the Indigenous People of the Sakha Republic

This week i discuss on indigenous people of the Sakha Republic and their tribal commune known as obshchina. Here i analyze the relationship of provincial and federal government with the so called obshchinas (tribal communes). Before moving further into the details of the paper i would like to explain little about indigenous people (aborigines) of Russian North.In Russia 'indigenous people' (korennye) further divided into 'indigenous numerically small peoples of the North' ( korennye malochislennye narodoy severa).According to Russian law the aborigines are defined as " the peoples living in the regions of the North, Siberia and the Far East on the territory of traditional occupancy of their ancestors, maintaining traditional ways of life, economy and trades, numbering less than 50,000 persons, and considering themselves distinct ethnic communities." Russia's northern territories is home to more than forty aboriginal peoples, from the Sami in the north west to Eskimos and Aleut in the north east. Together these indigenous people come around 250,000.A large part of them are still rural.In this paper i deal with Sakha Republic and its three traditional aborigines : Eevenki, Even and Yukagir. Today's entry focus on the 'reterritorialization' of obshchina (tribal commune) in the post-Soviet Sakha Republic.Discussion also looks on its impact on the relationship between both federal and provincial governments and aborigines.

What is obshchina? Obshchina is a traditional tribal commune of the Sakha Republic. Obshchina is restructured after the disintegration of Soviet Union.It is an officially recognized institution and anyone with traditional aborigine identity and lifestyle can join into one of the obshchinas and enjoy the privileges offered to it by the Russian federal government and the government of the Sakha Republic.According to Russian federal government obshchina may promotes the traditional life and culture of the indigenous people.Aborigines aspire to control over their ancestral land and partial right over the natural resources of their land.As we know Sakha Republic is blessed with natural resources such as diamond, gold, petroleum products and other precious minerals.Under the Soviet Union, income generated from these sources used to go directly to Moscow's coffer.But the disintegration of the Soviet Union partially reversed this trend.The new Russian government forced to make some compromise with indigenous people.The international pressure and new global order were also pressurized Moscow to become lenient towards its republics.Besides various republics demanded more autonomy from Moscow.The aborigine assertiveness should see from this background.Again just like in nomadic parts of the Central Asia the Soviets were not fully successful in the elimination of clan based institution such as obshchina in Sakha Republic.Under Soviet state farm (reindeer based) system the same kinfolk worked together and it ensured the survival of obshchinas. There is one big difference between Soviet times and now.Soviets did not recognize the obshchinas but new government legalized the reality.

In March 1992 the Russian federal government issued a decree which calls for the development of a law on 'clan, obshchina and family lands' for the aborigines.On the basis of  this decree the Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued an order which demands the transfer of lands important to traditional activities "to clan obshchinas and families of the numerically - small peoples of the North, connected with traditional activities and trades " for "life-long possession, with inheritance rights for or lease." Sakha Republic also followed the path of  federal government and developed a law for obshchinas. According to republic law obshchina is : 

     "a voluntary union of representatives of aboriginal peoples, or also representatives of other indigenous peoples and ethnic communities of the North who pursue a nomadic way of life, on the basis of membership and joining of property shares for joint activities connected with traditional occupations and trades on their age - old territories of occupancy". 

There is one big difference between the Russian federal law and the law of the Sakha Republic.According to federal law only so called aborigines are eligible for obshchina rights.But into this Sakha government added both Sakha people (as other indigenous people) and Russian Old Believers ( as ethnic communities).Or, in other words, Sakha law gave more importance to traditionality than aboriginality. Sakha law also encourages obshchina as an economic institution and promoted traditional activities for economic development. Obshchina lands are exempted from tax and obshchinas enjoy minimum interference from governments.The Sakha law also demands a referendum of aborigines to allow any industrial or any other kind of involvement in their land.Again according to both federal and provincial law the land right transferred to the commune not to any individual.But in oppose to Sakha Republic federal government did not ready to recognize the non-aborigine obshchinas.

On paper things are seem to be perfect.But unfortunately the obshchinas laws are not implemented strictly at the expense of aborigines.The resource rich Sakha territory invites the attention of outside world and government authorities bypass laws often for material benefits.For example government is not ready to recognize the right of urban born aborigines or aborigine who use modern facilities such as snow bikes as real aborigines.Sometimes hunting parties from Europe and other places could not appreciate the land rights of the aborigines.Neither government nor aborigines can block these incidents.We can see that government agencies are not very willing to implement these laws even though it is written very clearly in paper.Still the newly found right over their ancestral land enable aborigines to engage with any sort of investment in the obshchina land.Or it made them more powerful in a territory blessed with immense natural resources.


1) Argounova - Low, "Tatiana (2007), Close Relatives and Outsiders : Village People in the City of Yakutsk,Siberia," Arctic Anthropology, Vol.44, No.1,pp.51-61.

2) Cruikshank, Julie & Tatiana Argounova (2000), "Reinscribing Meaning : Memory and Indigenous Identity in Sakha Republic (Yakutia)," Arctic Anthropology, Vol.37, No.1, pp.96 - 119.

3) Fondahl, Gail, Olga Lazebnik etal. (2001), "Native 'land claims', Russian style," The Canadian Geographer,Vol.45, No.4, pp.545 - 561.


The Domestic Theater of Uzbek National Security: Protest & Demonstration

                When they hear the term “national security”, most people imagine risks posed by external threats from abroad which might affect the interests of the nation.  However, there is the often overlooked domestic part of this equation.  States evaluate domestic threats under varying degrees of severity.  In the Republic of Uzbekistan, unauthorized protest, demonstration, or other political participation might be of the highest priority among these security concerns.
                The criminal code of Uzbekistan outlaws unlawful public associations.  Any unlawful public association is one which is not registered with the Ministry of Justice.  Many of these are automatically considered outlawed if they have a perceived combination of religious and political motives.  This is likely enforced as a response to protest activities of the Adolat (Justice) party in the early 1990s [1], which evolved into organized challenges against the authority of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.  Also worth considering when observing Uzbekistan’s state response to demonstrations is the Andijan protest of 2005.  While the official state evaluation of regime response against the protestors estimates 187 dead, human rights organizations report the number to be as high as 1,500 [2]. 
                Protests and mass mobilization bring a considerable amount of concern to the administration of Islam Karimov.  Today, the lightest of demonstrations appears to attract police retaliation and detention.  One opposition party, Birdamlik Demoratic Movement, has seen its activities restricted in a similar manner.  The party was founded in 2011 by Bahodyr Choriyev, an Uzbek refugee and businessman residing in the United States.  Since 2011, Choriyev has issued numerous calls for Uzbeks to mobilize against Karimov’s administration [3], though they have not always been successful in attracting participants.  In 2012, Choriyev issued instructions encouraging civil disobedience and non-violent demonstrations against the state [4].  In this plan, Choriyev mentions plans to resurrect and improve the entrepreneurial class in Uzbekistan.  According to his statement, he intends to do this after assuming the office of the presidency.   For the moment, however, he appears to be depending on the commitment of Uzbek citizens to effect this change.
                The Birdamlik party self-promotes an association with the “color” revolutions experienced in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan by encouraging its participants to wear white clothing while demonstrating.  The color white is supposedly symbolic of the nation’s abundance of cotton.  Choriyev also announced a photo contest in 2013, where participants could take pictures dressed in white and submit them for cash prizes. [5]  In 2013, the Uzbek state made an apparent response to the vocal activity of Birdamlik by arresting Choriyev’s father. [6]  Nevertheless, the movement appears to be active.  While demonstrations were still relatively small in number in 2013, it was reported that members were still detained and intimidated by authorities. [7] 
                Birdamlik is not the only party which Islam Karimov appears to be concerned with, however.  The state also maintains that the political organization Birlik remain an illegal party.  Over the past few years, the Uzbek Ministry of Justice has made it increasingly difficult for the party to become officially recognized, citing insufficient signatures of membership every time. [8]  The Uzbek state has also outlawed any activity by the parties Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) and Erk (Liberty Democratic Party).  My next entry will focus more on the activities of these particular organizations.
                From what can be seen, demonstration and protest in any number is absolutely not tolerated by President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan.  Out of fear of the potential effect a “color revolution” might have, the state seems to act quickly to suppress any such activity.  In the end of January 2014, a group of activities were arrested for performing a demonstration of solidarity with the Euromaidan protestors of Ukraine.  According to reports, two of the demonstrators were photographers who had recently tried to display their photo art which involved themes of labor, struggle, and poverty in Uzbekistan.  Some of the demonstrators carried Georgian and Ukrainian flags.  Although the demonstration numbered barely more than six people, they were detained by authorities.  [9]  As the 2014 parliamentary elections and 2015 presidential elections come ever nearer, one has to wonder whether or not future demonstrations will occur.  If we do see more mobilization in Uzbekistan, what fate awaits the participants?

1. Naumkin, V.V.  "Evolyutsiya Islamskogo dvizheniya Uzbekistana" Tsentr arabskikh i islamskikh issledovaniy.
2. HRO "Zametaya sledy: Tashkent perepisyvayet istoriyu andizhanskikh sobytiy" May 13, 2007

  3. Uznews "Protest dvizheniya «Birdamlik» v Tashkente ne udalsya" October 13, 2011 
4. Fergana News "Dvizheniye «Birdamlik» obeshchayet vydelit' $1 mlrd na sozdaniye klassa sobstvennikov v Uzbekistane" Dec 22, 2013
 5. Fergana News "Uzbekistan: Narodnoye dvizheniye «Birdamlik» vydelilo na pervyy etap «barkhatnoy revolyutsii» 16 tysyach dollarov" September 3, 2013
6. Rosbalt "Arest kak mest' za syna?" June 21, 2013
7. Ferana News "Uzbekistan: V Tashkente sotrudniki militsii v ocherednoy raz presekli aktsiyu dvizheniya «Birdamlik»" December 6, 2013

8. Harakat Newsletter "Vystupleniye predsedatelya OPCH Uzbekistana «Ezgulik» Vasili Inoyatovoy na Yezhegodnom sobraniye OBSE v Varshave" October 3, 2013
9. Uznews "Akhmedova i drugiye sochuvstvuyushchiye Yevromaydanu pod arestom" January 30, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Gazprom at a Crossroads

As the global market for natural gas continues to evolve, Gazprom has shifted its focus away from its core European markets and towards the east. For some time now, Gazprom has been engaged in negotiations with the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) for the development new pipelines. These negotiations have been underway for roughly a decade now and could finally be reaching their conclusion.

The timing of this deal comes at a time that Gazprom is at a crossroads. Firstly, it is facing growing pressure from domestic produces such as Roseneft. Furthermore, the world’s supply of natural gas is growing more abundant, resulting in depressed prices. Finally, European demand for energy resources has been shrinking. Presently, the Asian market is Russia’s only source of gas export growth and because nearly half of Russia’s budget derives from its oil and gas revenues growth is critical.

Until last December, Gazprom held a virtual monopoly on the export of natural gas. The recently enacted Gas Export Liberalization bill broke up this monopoly and has injected competition into the Russian natural gas market. Rosneft has morphed into a strong rival to Gazprom and contracted with CNPC in October of last year to give the Chinese company an equity share in its East Siberian oil and gas field. Gazprom has long resisted such a move. Rosneft has also implied that it is willing to consider the possibility of exporting natural gas to China via pipeline.

If Roseneft is able to step into the position of Russia’s leading gas exporter to China the consequences could be disastrous for Gazprom. Yet the rise in domestic competition will force Gazprom to become more efficient in its allocation of resources and pricing. Additionally, it will press Gazprom to quickly settle an agreement with China to avoid losing any more tracking in the Asian market.

Gazprom is also facing mounting regional competition from a number of former Soviet Republics. Today, China is the biggest trading partner of four of the regions five nations, with Uzbekistan as the exception. Turkmenistan is China’s largest foreign supplier of natural gas. Kazakhstan recently announced a $30 billion deal to allow China to claim a share of the Kazak oil fields, one of the largest discovery’s of crude oil in recent history. Recent reports indicate that Chinese trade with the Central Asian region was around $46 billion last year. These developments are mutually beneficial for China and the Central Asian region, but it also weakens Russia economically.

China has increased presence harms Russia in a number of ways. Firstly, it prevents Russia from obtaining cheap natural gas from Central Asia that it later can sell to Europe at a markup. Secondly, it reduces Russia’s negotiation power with China when it comes to energy agreements. Additionally, it increases the global supply of energy, which results in lower prices.

Historically, Russia has dominated over the region’s energy infrastructure and markets. The majority of all natural resource flowed north, leaving the countries of that area with little negotiation power. Today Russia’s firm hold on the Central Asia is beginning to crack, largely due to China’s investment and trade with the region. All of these factors place tremendous pressure on Gazprom to agree to a deal with China.


2. Council of Europe - Group of States Against Corruption(GRECO), Compliance Report on the Russian Federation, Dec. 3, 2010.

3. Roman Olearchyk, China Looks to Ukraine as Demand for Food Rises, Fin. Times, (Nov. 5, 2013), available at

4. Mary Dejevsky, The Setback with Ukraine Will Teach Brussels to be Patient, Fin. Times (Dec. 1, 2013) available at