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Majlis Podcast: How Central Asia Dealt With COVID-19 In 2020 And What's Coming In 2021


A security officer checks the temperature of a passenger in Bishkek.

The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year the coronavirus appeared and spread across the globe.

The virus exposed weaknesses in every country, particularly in health-care systems, but it also affected trade and tested alliances.

The responses from the five Central Asian countries differed.

This was most evident in their official reporting on registered cases and deaths, where countries such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, even though their figures were often questionable, released statistics that showed the countries were facing a serious health crisis, while countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan carefully manipulated figures to ensure an outward appearance of controlling the situation. And then there was Turkmenistan, which chose complete denial and continues its farcical claims that the country has somehow been immune to the coronavirus.

How did the five countries fare in 2020 and, with various vaccines being developed and gradually being made available internationally, how does 2021 look for Central Asia?

On this week's Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion that looks at these questions.

This week's guests are: from Kazakhstan, Gaukhar Mergenova, a public-health specialist; from Kyrgyzstan, Ermek Ismailov, a surgeon at the Clinical Hospital Office of the President and Government of the Kyrgyz Republic; and originally from Uzbekistan but currently a senior journalist for RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik, and based in Prague, Barno Anvar; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Majlis Podcast: COVID-19 In Central Asia In 2021
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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